Sustainable Ag News

NCR-SARE Seeking Farmer or Rancher for Administrative Council

ATTRA - Thu, 01/05/2023 - 18:23

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE) is seeking nominations of farmers or ranchers from the 12-state North Central Region for a seat on its Administrative Council. NCR-SARE is particularly encouraging nominations from Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa. NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council represents various agricultural sectors, states, and organizations. It sets program priorities and makes granting decisions for the region. A term is three years. Council members attend two in-person meetings and a few virtual meetings each year. Nominations are due by January 18, 2023.

Categories: Ag News

USDA Completes Environmental Assessment for Biological Control Agent of Spotted-Wing Drosophila

ATTRA - Wed, 01/04/2023 - 22:53

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has prepared a final environmental assessment (EA) that addresses the environmental impacts of releasing the insect Ganaspis brasiliensis to manage spotted-wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) populations in the contiguous United States. After careful analysis, APHIS has determined that releasing this biological control agent in the continental U.S. is not likely to harm the environment. APHIS projects that releasing G. brasiliensis will reduce spotted-wing drosophila populations in the U.S. This small wasp poses no risk to humans, livestock, or wildlife. It only feeds on the invasive spotted-wing drosophila and related nonnative species. This finding allowed APHIS to approve permits for the initial release of G. brasiliensis into the environment to manage the spotted-wing drosophila.

Categories: Ag News

CrowdFarming Links Farmers and Consumers in Multiple Countries

ATTRA - Wed, 01/04/2023 - 01:03

A feature in The Guardian describes how CrowdFunding, a web-based service begun by two organic orange growers in Spain, helps link farmers directly with consumers to increase farm earnings. The website now hosts 182 farms in 12 countries, helping consumers access fresh goods at a lower price, and helping farmers earn more for their crops. The site also helps farmers obtain organic certification and strengthens ties between farmers and their consumers, allowing consumers to make purchases that align with their values and developing a loyal client base that helps farmers weather setbacks.
Related ATTRA publication: Direct Marketing

Categories: Ag News

Pennsylvania Offers Guidance for Farmland Solar Energy Production

ATTRA - Tue, 01/03/2023 - 22:11

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture released guidance for landowners considering solar production on farmland and in rural communities in Pennsylvania. The document sets forth principles for the implementation of grid-scale solar as a means by which Pennsylvania can address climate mitigation and adaptation, without compromising food and fiber production. The guidance also outlines additional considerations for owners of farmland, including the impact solar production would have on the farm’s enrollment in preferential tax programs, preserved farm status, local zoning, environmental permits, and conservation plans and other issues.

Categories: Ag News

Kentucky Initiative Building Market for Local Meat

ATTRA - Mon, 01/02/2023 - 22:56

The Pennsylvania Capital-Star posted a feature on an effort to build local markets for small livestock farmers in Henry County, Kentucky. The Berry Center spearheaded the effort with development of Our Home Place Meat in 2017. This operation guaranteed a market and price for rose veal from area small farms. The meat is processed locally, and What Chefs Want!, a regional wholesaler, helps connect the product with the restaurant market. Now Berry Beef has been added to the product mix, supplying farm-raised, grain-fed beef. Together, the operations utilize some 270 head per year, which makes a significant difference for the county’s small farmers when their animals each earn $200 to $300 more per head than they would in commodity sales.

Categories: Ag News

Strolling of the Heifers Launches Agritech Institute for Small Farms

ATTRA - Mon, 01/02/2023 - 22:35

The Vermont nonprofit Strolling of the Heifers, known for its annual parade of dairy animals and promotion of local food, has provided seed funding to establish the Agritech Institute for Small Farms. The Institute will promote the adoption of innovative agritech tools and land management practices by small farms, which improve farm financial viability and environmental performance. In addition, the Institute seeks to embrace small farms as climate change mitigation solutions, achieving measurable carbon sequestration, and improved water quality and soil health through sustainable practices. It will be conducting academic research and on-farm applied research at Vermont’s small dairies, with an emphasis on measurable outcomes.

Categories: Ag News

Virginia Governor Announces Grants Supporting Local Food Systems

ATTRA - Thu, 12/29/2022 - 21:37

Virginia’s Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the largest ever award round from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Infrastructure Grant Program supporting local farms and food producers. Ten projects will receive a total of $368,885 in competitively awarded, matching grants for new community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Created by the General Assembly in 2021, AFID Infrastructure grants are awarded biannually to support locally identified investments that aid small-scale farmers and food producers in growing their operations. Brief descriptions of the funded projects are available online.

Categories: Ag News

Hawai’i Study Reveals Extent of Young-Farmer Depression

ATTRA - Thu, 12/29/2022 - 21:16

A survey undertaken by the Seeds of Wellbeing project at the University of Hawai’i revealed that 48% of Hawaiian farmers 45 years old or younger have experienced depression and 14% have struggled with suicidal thoughts. The figures represent a rate almost twice that of the general population of the state. The University has launched an Ag Mental Health Mentors program, and 44 producers signed up to be mentors in its first month. Seeds of Wellbeing also has several other efforts underway, including a podcast series, prevention guides specific to farmers, and a media campaign to increase respect for farmers and ranchers.
Related ATTRA Topic: Farmer Well-Being

Categories: Ag News

Cornell University Investigates Apple Waste as Chicken Feed Ingredient

ATTRA - Thu, 12/29/2022 - 15:54

Researchers at Cornell University conducted an initial study aimed at utilizing apple pomace as an ingredient in chicken feed. In the current study, scientists injected apple juice, pomace, and pulp into eggs and found that it improved the young chickens’ intestinal health after hatching. This promising result is the first step toward diverting apple pomace from the waste stream and using it to improve broiler chickens’ nutrition and health.

Categories: Ag News

Wisconsin Awards Producer-led Watershed Protection Grants

ATTRA - Wed, 12/28/2022 - 21:46

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has awarded $1 million in producer-led watershed protection grants (PLWPG) to 43 farmer-led groups for 2023. Grants support producer-led conservation solutions by encouraging innovation and farmer participation in on-the-groun​d efforts to improve Wisconsin’s soil health and water quality. This is the eighth round of grant awards. Grant projects have focused on providing conservation education to farmers, conducting on-farm demonstrations and research, issuing incentive payments for implementing conservation practices, organizing field days, and gathering data on soil health and water quality. 

Categories: Ag News

Nebraska Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program Accepting Applications

ATTRA - Wed, 12/28/2022 - 21:17

The Center for Rural Affairs is hosting the second cohort of the Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship program. This program was created to provide beginning farmers with hands-on and technical skills to implement conservation practices and facilitate conservation workshops. This opportunity is open to 10 beginning farmers, and applications will be accepted until January 3, 2023. Fellows must farm within the state of Nebraska and must be able to attend a one-day workshop in Aurora, Nebraska, on February 2, 2023. Farmers of underserved audiences are highly encouraged to apply, such as BIPOC farmers, LGBTQ+, women, beginners, and veterans.

Categories: Ag News

Clemson University Grant Supports Organic Sweet Potato Pest-Protection Research

ATTRA - Wed, 12/28/2022 - 20:42

Clemson University announced that it has received a USDA Organic Transitions Program grant of $747,280 to support efforts to protect organic sweet potatoes. The research focuses on using anaerobic soil disinfestation, novel plastic mulch, and sweet potato clones to control southern root-knot nematode and weed infestations in organic sweet potato production.
Related ATTRA Publication: Soil Solarization and Biosolarization

Categories: Ag News

California Carbon Neutrality Plan Provides Roadmap to Address Climate Change

ATTRA - Tue, 12/27/2022 - 21:46

California’s Air Resources Board approved the 2022 Scoping Plan, a sector-by-sector roadmap to address climate change that cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 85% and achieves carbon neutrality in 2045. The plan includes strategies for grasslands and croplands, which each make up 9% of California’s land. The strategies for success include grassland management that promotes carbon sequestration and increased compost application. On cropland, strategies include promotion of healthy soils and organic agriculture, more sustainable pest management, and on-farm energy production.

Categories: Ag News

Climate-Resilient Pistachio Project Receives Grant Funding

ATTRA - Tue, 12/27/2022 - 21:00

A multi-state research project led by the University of California, Davis, has received a $3.8 million grant through USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to better equip pistachio producers for warmer winters and scarcer water. Even as the pistachio industry has grown in recent years, producers are facing more challenges with pollination timing and water scarcity. Researchers are looking for a rootstock that tolerates less water and for scions that can pollinate efficiently even with warmer winter weather. Growers are invited to participate in the study, sharing what they already are trying in their own fields or supporting any aspect of the project.

Categories: Ag News

Maine Couple Offers Rent-A-Farmer Service

ATTRA - Mon, 12/26/2022 - 20:55

The Sun Journal reported on JustNiks Rent-A-Farmers, a Maine business run by Justin Triquet and his wife Nikki Leroux that offers skilled short- to mid-term farm labor. The couple provide their services to farms that need extra labor for a busy season or special project. They say demand for skilled farm labor is high, and they have worked at a wide variety of jobs in diverse locations.

Categories: Ag News

University of Arkansas Data Project to Connect Small Farmers with Institutional Buyers

ATTRA - Mon, 12/26/2022 - 11:58

Led by the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I³R) at the U of A, a cross-disciplinary team of university researchers, consultants, and startup companies has been awarded a National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator grant for “Data-driven Agriculture to Bridge Small Farms to Regional Food Supply Chains,” a project designed to connect regional farmers with institutional buyers and ultimately expand access to healthy and nutritious food. According to a press release, the overall objective of this project is to empower regional food producers to understand the economic value of specialty crop assortment and food animals on their farms in comparison to market demand for institutional sales and intervening factors such as food safety considerations. The project team ultimately will create a scalable technology platform that provides market insights to small farmers via the convergence of multiple scientific research fields and modern technological innovations such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. 

Categories: Ag News

Practical Farmers of Iowa Announces Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award

ATTRA - Mon, 12/26/2022 - 11:39

Dean and Judy Henry, long-time owners of The Berry Patch Farm near Nevada, Iowa, have been chosen to receive the 2023 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa. The award is given each year by PFI to an individual or couple that has shown exemplary commitment to sustainable agriculture, generously shared their knowledge with others and been influential in efforts to foster vibrant communities, diverse farms and healthy food. For more than 50 years, the Henrys have raised a variety of orchard fruits, berries and other horticultural crops, both familiar and less common, on their 140-acre farm south of Nevada, where they have introduced generations of Iowans to community-focused agriculture, locally raised produce and land stewardship. The award will be presented January 20, 2023, in Ames, during Practical Farmers’ 2023 annual conference, “On Common Ground.”

Categories: Ag News

GAP Toolkit Helps Underserved Specialty Crop Farmers Access Markets

ATTRA - Mon, 12/26/2022 - 11:30

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation have created a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) grower toolkit and corresponding website to increase underserved farmers’ access to new and existing markets and USDA food safety certification programs. The website and toolkit detail the specifics of the GAP programs, their benefits, expected costs, misconceptions, the audit process, and relevant resources. The toolkit’s educational resources put an emphasis on GroupGAP. The toolkit is available online or as a printable PDF.
Related ATTRA Topic: Food Safety

Categories: Ag News

Pennsylvania Grants Build Meat Processing Capacity

ATTRA - Fri, 12/23/2022 - 22:08

Pennsylvania has awarded $1.58 million in 2022-23 Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Reimbursement Grants. The grants, awarded to 20 processors in 15 counties, were created under the historic PA Farm Bill in 2019 to build small businesses’ capacity to meet demand for local foods. This is the fourth year the grant has been offered. Since its inception, the Very Small Meat and Poultry Processors Grant has reimbursed $2 million to support expansion of 35 businesses.

Categories: Ag News

Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants

ATTRA - Fri, 12/23/2022 - 21:57

Applications are due January 31, 2023.
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants. This program assists rural small businesses and agricultural producers by conducting and promoting energy audits and providing Renewable Energy Development Assistance (REDA). Eligible applicants are state and local governments, federally recognized tribes, public power entities, institutions of higher education, and RC&D councils. The maximum aggregate amount of an energy audit and REDA grant in a Federal fiscal year is $100,000.

Categories: Ag News
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