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ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Weekly Harvest Newsletter


Sustainable Agriculture News Briefs - February 10, 2010

Weekly sustainable agriculture news and resources gleaned from the Internet by NCAT staff for the ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site. The Weekly Harvest Newsletter is also available online.

Share The Harvest: Please forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who might be interested in the latest sustainable agriculture news, funding opportunities, and events.

News & Resources
* USDA Launches Open Government Site
* Organic Survey Data Released
* Southeastern Farmers Needed for Cover Crop Survey
* USDA to Rework Animal Traceability Plan
* Farmers' Market Manager Training Manual Available
* Report Outlines Federal Agencies That Influence the Food System

Funding Opportunities
* Vermont Farmers' Markets Mini-Grant
* Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative
* Strolling of the Heifers Microloan Fund for New England Farmers

Coming Events
* NOFA-Vermont Winter Conference
* Annual OEFFA Conference
* Evaluating Soil Fertility for Winegrapes Workshop


News & Resources

USDA Launches Open Government Site
On January 29, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture launched its Open Government Webpage. In line with the Directive, the USDA Open Government Webpage serves as a portal to USDA activities related to transparency, participation, collaboration, innovation and datasets. On the Open Page, the public can learn about and comment on USDA information such as available and proposed datasets, records, reports & other resources. You can also rank topics based on what you feel is most important to help USDA prioritize future actions. This is part of the Obama administration's Open Government Initiative.

Organic Survey Data Released
The nation's organic farms and ranches have higher average sales and higher average production expenses than U.S. farms overall, according to results of the 2008 Organic Production Survey released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. "This was USDA's first wide-scale survey of organic producers, and it was undertaken in direct response to the growing interest in organics among consumers, farmers, businesses, policymakers and others," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

Southeastern Farmers Needed for Cover Crop Survey
Are you a sustainable Southeastern farmer? If so, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) would like you to fill out their survey to help focus future research efforts at North Carolina State University. This survey is part of an effort to understand farmers' opinions on the benefits and challenges of cover crop use, and to estimate current levels of cover cropping on Southeast farms.

USDA to Rework Animal Traceability Plan
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will develop a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability in the United States, and undertake several other actions to further strengthen its disease prevention and response capabilities. "After concluding our listening tour on the National Animal Identification System in 15 cities across the country, receiving thousands of comments from the public and input from States, Tribal Nations, industry groups, and representatives for small and organic farmers, it is apparent that a new strategy for animal disease traceability is needed," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I've decided to revise the prior policy and offer a new approach to animal disease traceability with changes that respond directly to the feedback we heard."

Farmers' Market Manager Training Manual Available
With funding from a three-year SARE Professional Development grant, the Farmers' Market Federation of New York used market experiences and research to develop an innovative new "Farmers' Market Manager Training Manual (PDF/7MB)." The manual describes the role of market managers and provides checklists, sample policies, worksheets, and other hands-on tools to help managers start markets, build market communities, and harness the power of these communities to sustain the markets and their local food systems.

Report Outlines Federal Agencies That Influence the Food System
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considered the most influential federal agency when it comes to our food system, many other government agencies combine to deeply affect what, and how, food is raised and consumed in the U.S. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) has published "Beyond the USDA: How other government agencies can support a healthier, more sustainable food system," (PDF/280KB) by Maggie Gosselin. The paper reports on federal agencies and their role in administering programs, grants and regulatory oversight that affect food. This agency-by-agency review covers food safety regulations, community economic and housing development, health education, food procurement, labor standards, trade negotiations and transportation infrastructure.

> More Breaking News

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Funding Opportunities

Vermont Farmers' Markets Mini-Grant
The 2010 Vermont Farmers' Market Mini-Grants are available to support successful expansion projects at existing markets or to help communities create new farmers' markets. Currently there is $100,000 available to support grants up to $5,000 each. Interested markets are expected to conduct a strategic planning process to identify short and long term goals for market development. Eligible projects include but are not limited to: developing promotional materials, building physical infrastructure to enhance the marketplace, strengthening the market governing body, conducting economic impact assessments, and developing accessibility to the market for underserved customer bases.
Proposals are due March 1, 2010.

Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative
The sign-up for the FY 2010 Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative has begun. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking applications and the deadline is coming up soon, but varies state to state. The EQIP Organic Initiative will pay growers to implement conservation-friendly farming practices. If you wish to participate in this program, please contact your local or state NRCS office as soon as possible and make at least a preliminary application. For FY 2010, applications will be treated as two separate ranking pools -- one for transitioning farmers and ranchers without any current certified organic production, and one for existing certified organic producers who are either adding new transitional production or adopting new conservation measures on existing organic production. To find your state or local NRCS office follow this link and click on your state, which will then allow you to find your local NRCS office.
Application due date varies by state.

Strolling of the Heifers Microloan Fund for New England Farmers
The mission of the fund is to address the difficulty that some New England farmers have in obtaining credit for projects that improve their operations and increase their income, as well as for emergency needs.
Proposals are due February 26, 2010.

> More Funding Opportunities

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Coming Events

NOFA-Vermont Winter Conference
February 13-15, 2010
Burlington, Vermont

Celebrating the Heart of Organic, will explore how local and organic agriculture provide a response to the national Agenda for Change. The conference will highlight the work of Vermont's innovative farmers, gardeners, and communities to address climate challenges, inequities in food access, and increased demand for food grown closer to home.

Annual OEFFA Conference
February 13-14, 2010
Granville, Ohio

The conference will have a full offering of informative, hands-on, educational workshops, exhibitors, and networking opportunities, as well as dynamic keynote speakers Joel Salatin and Ann Cooper.

Evaluating Soil Fertility for Winegrapes Workshop
February 15-17, 2010
Napa, California

This workshop utilizes 100 actual soil tests taken for various grape-growing areas of the world, with emphasis on winegrape soils of the U.S. and in particular, soils from the West Coast. The basic foundation for determining each nutrient required for achieving excellent soil fertility is provided as a specific formula. Each formula is explained in the context of the subjects covered, and is included as a handout in participants' notebooks, along with copies of all the soil tests used for the course.

> More Events

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Digital versions of recent Weekly Harvest and ATTRAnews newsletters are available online. ATTRAnews is the newsletter of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) logo and link to home page ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and is funded under a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Visit the NCAT Web site for more information on our sustainable agriculture projects.

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