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Weekly Harvest Newsletter
Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - December 28, 2011

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project website. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

News & Resources

  • Report Highlights Benefits of Keeping Agricultural Land in Production
  • Center for Rural Affairs Offers Help Line to Assist with CSP Application, Other Programs
  • Cornell Research Shows Vermicompost Helps Suppress Plant Disease
  • Major Land Uses Study Shows Decline in Cropland
  • New Website Helps Milk Producers Improve Quality
  • Grant to Support Healthy Food Systems in Native American Communities

Funding Opportunities

  • Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund
  • Cornell Small Farms Program Small Farms Project
  • Washington State Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Coming Events

  • Virginia Biological Farming Conference
  • Dakota Grown Local Foods Conference
  • Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference

News & Resources

Report Highlights Benefits of Keeping Agricultural Land in Production
A new report from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, A Comprehensive Valuation of Agricultural Lands: A Perpetual Investment in Oregon's Economy and Environment, suggests that in many cases the best value comes from keeping land in production agriculture. The analysis in the report promotes a thoughtful approach to development before converting lands to other uses. As detailed in the report, the economic benefits provided by agriculture are significant. Environmental and social benefits of agricultural lands are also detailed.

Center for Rural Affairs Offers Help Line to Assist with CSP Application, Other Programs
USDA's National Resources Conservation Service recently announced that the deadline for producer applications for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) will be January 13, 2012. The Center for Rural Affairs is encouraging farmers, ranchers, and others to call the organization's Farm Bill Help Line with questions about the CSP application process and to share their experiences, both positive and negative. Producers can also receive guidance through the help line for applying for other conservation programs. Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Help Line or send an e-mail to tracib@cfra.org .

Cornell Research Shows Vermicompost Helps Suppress Plant Disease
Cornell University researchers have found that vermicompost -- the product of composting using various species of worms -- is not only an excellent fertilizer but could also help prevent a pathogen that has been a scourge to greenhouse growers. Researchers found that beneficial microbes in vermicompost can colonize a seed's surface and protect it from infection.
Related ATTRA Publication: Worms for Bait or Waste Processing (Vermicomposting)

Major Land Uses Study Shows Decline in Cropland
USDA's Economic Research Service has released Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2007. The report shows that between 2002 and 2007, total cropland decreased by 34 million acres. Total land available for grazing declined from 783 million acres in 2002 to 777 million acres in 2007, continuing a downward trend since the 1940s. The study also notes that urban land acreage quadrupled from 1945 to 2007, increasing at about twice the rate of population growth.

New Website Helps Milk Producers Improve Quality
A new website to help Wisconsin dairy producers improve milk quality has been launched by two professors in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The site includes a section devoted to organic dairies.

Grant to Support Healthy Food Systems in Native American Communities
First Nations Development Institute has received a $500,000 grant from Walmart to support the availability of healthy and affordable fresh foods in Native American communities. The project will assist in developing or expanding locally controlled and locally based food systems to provide healthy foods and support agricultural-related entrepreneurial ventures and the local economy in Native American communities.

>> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund
Farmers Advocating for Organics Farmer Committee accepts proposals from individuals and organizations seeking funding for particular projects or programs dedicated to furthering organic education, organic farming or product research, and organic advocacy.
Deadlines for full grant proposals are February 1 and September 1, 2012.

Cornell Small Farms Program Small Farms Project
The Cornell Small Farms Program is requesting proposals for projects that address specific priorities for small farms in New York in three main focus areas: Livestock Processing Issues, Local Market Access and Growth, and Grasslands Use/Grazing. Farmers, agriculture educators and service providers, community development groups, agricultural non-profit organizations, and community members in New York State are all eligible to apply.
Applications are due by January 13, 2012.

Washington State Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Washington State Department of Agriculture receives grant funding from USDA to enhance the competitiveness of Washington's specialty crops. WSDA is conducting a two-phase competitive process to award an estimated $3 million for 2012.
The deadline to submit a pre-proposal is January 23, 2012.

>> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

Virginia Biological Farming Conference
February 10-11, 2012
Richmond, Virginia

"Transitioning to Organic Agriculture" includes pre-conference seminars, plenary sessions, and breakout sessions on organic livestock, organic crops, and organic management.

Dakota Grown Local Foods Conference
February 3-4, 2012
Fargo, North Dakota

This event is hosted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Farmers Market & Growers Association. The agenda includes presentations on production, marketing, rural community revitalization, small equipment options, and agri-tourism opportunities.

Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference
February 3-4, 2012
St. Paul, Minnesota

The conference provides education and resources to small farm operators and fosters relationships between farmers and community partners. The conference supports new and aspiring women and immigrant farmers and their contribution to an adequate supply of local foods, local economic development, and healthy communities.

>> More Events

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