Sustainable Ag News

Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial Report Highlights Organic Resilience in Extreme Weather

ATTRA - Thu, 12/22/2022 - 19:21

A blog post from Rodale Institute summarizes some of the results from the organization’s 40-year Farming Systems Trial of organic grain cropping systems. Long-term comparisons of organic and conventional cropping systems have shown that regenerative organic agriculture is an effective and resilient farming model in an era of extreme weather. The results showed that organic systems produce yields of cash crops equal to conventional systems, capture carbon, infiltrate water quickly, and improve soil health.

Categories: Ag News

Tagasaste Tested as Drought-Resistant Ruminant Forage in Texas

ATTRA - Thu, 12/22/2022 - 12:31

Marfa Maid Dairy in Texas tested tagasaste as a drought-resistant forage for its goat herd, with support from a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) Producer Grant. Tagasaste is a fast-growing small evergreen tree grown extensively in Australia and New Zealand as fodder that thrives in poor soils, is drought tolerant, and is highly nutritious for livestock. Although the plants established well in West Texas, they were all lost during the historic cold snap in February 2021. Nonetheless, the project raised awareness of forage alternatives for arid regions.

Categories: Ag News

Data Training for the Small Farm Available Online

ATTRA - Thu, 12/22/2022 - 11:35

Community Alliance with Family Farmers has posted a three-part webinar series on data training for small farms, held by its Small Farm Tech Hub during November and December. This workshop series was designed to provide a small farm business with key skills in how to understand and use data for business success. The workshop series is designed to provide the fundamentals in data concepts, sources, and management, how to use data to evaluate sales channels, and how to use data for scenario planning. Webinar recordings and resource lists are available online.

Categories: Ag News

Study Shows Insect Diversity Loss in Nature Reserves Near Farmland

ATTRA - Tue, 12/20/2022 - 22:03

A study by German researchers, published in Biodiversity and Conservation shows that farmland in the vicinity of protected areas can have a negative impact on insect diversity within the protected areas. “We have seen that with regard to the wider surroundings of protected areas, there is a correlation between a high proportion of arable land and low insect diversity,” says study leader Sebastian Köthe.

Categories: Ag News

Agroforestry Apprenticeship Program Accepting Applications

ATTRA - Tue, 12/20/2022 - 18:45

The Savanna Institute Apprenticeship Program provides experience and technical education for aspiring agroforestry farmers through on-farm training with a mentor farmer, as well as community-building opportunities for farmers, apprentices, and those interested in agroforestry. Timing and duration is dependent on the needs of the host farm and the availability of the apprentice. On-farm experiences are at a minimum 10 weeks, and can be longer. All participating mentors are located in the Midwest. Application review begins January 15, 2023, and will continue on a rolling basis until positions are filled.

Categories: Ag News

Guides on Cover Crop Initiatives and Crop Insurance Issued

ATTRA - Mon, 12/19/2022 - 21:54

The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) has released a series of resources outlining cover crop initiatives, as well as guidelines for maintaining crop insurance when implementing this conservation practice. Each guide in the series explains cover crop cost-share initiatives on federal, state and local levels, as well as those available through private organizations. Among these recommendations are the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition to cost-share incentives, the guides provide an overview of crop insurance premium discounts, such as the USDA’s Pandemic Cover Crop Program and state-based opportunities. The resources also include information on cover crop termination and reporting guidelines to ensure farmers remain compliant with crop insurance regulations. The guides are available in English and Spanish.

Categories: Ag News

ERS Report Provides Overview of State Policies for Farm Animal Welfare

ATTRA - Mon, 12/19/2022 - 21:14

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) issued a 30-page Economic Information Bulletin titled State Policies for Farm Animal Welfare in Production Practices of U.S. Livestock and Poultry Industries: An Overview. Since 2002, 14 U.S. States have passed and implemented policies addressing practices that can impact farm animal welfare. The most common policies directly ban confinement practices within a State’s pork, egg, and veal industries or prohibit the sale of products from noncompliant operations. This report describes the current state of these policies, the extent of their implementation and geographic coverage, and the legal environment and challenges these policies have faced.

Categories: Ag News

North Central Region SARE Announces Graduate Student Grant Awards

ATTRA - Fri, 12/16/2022 - 22:15

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (NCR-SARE) announced the projects selected for its 2022 Graduate Student Grant Program. Twenty-one projects were awarded more than $311,000, across the 12-state region. Projects will address topics including climate change and carbon storage, agroforestry, weed and pest control, water quality, nutrient management, and social issues related to agriculture. Descriptions of the funded projects are available online.

Categories: Ag News

Organic Seed Alliance Publishes Policy Platform for Seed

ATTRA - Fri, 12/16/2022 - 17:48

Organic Seed Alliance published its 2023 Policy Platform for Seed, a list of priorities for advancing equitable and resilient seed systems in the next Farm Bill and beyond. OSA is asking Congress to ensure that seed systems in the United States are:
Free from corporate control and managed by the people, not the patent holder
Regionally adapted to help mitigate the impacts of climate change
Freely shaped by communities of origin
Contributing to the common good, including public plant breeding and research 
Readily accessible within the public domain
Helping organic growers meet regulatory requirements and serve their markets
Free from GMO contamination. 

Categories: Ag News

Study Measures Pollinator Loss Toll on Human Health

ATTRA - Fri, 12/16/2022 - 16:35

Research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that inadequate pollination has led to a 3 to 5% loss of fruit, vegetable, and nut production and an estimated 427,000 excess deaths annually from lost healthy food consumption and associated diseases. It is the first study to quantify the human health toll of insufficient wild (animal) pollinators on human health. “This research establishes that loss of pollinators is already impacting health on a scale with other global health risk factors, such as prostate cancer or substance use disorders,” said senior author Samuel Myers. The study also looked at lost economic value resulting from insufficient pollination and found that lower-income countries lost 10 to 30% of total agricultural value.

Categories: Ag News

U.S. Organic Survey Results Released

ATTRA - Fri, 12/16/2022 - 00:37

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the results of the 2021 Organic Survey, which show total sales of $11.2 billion in organic products, an increase of $1.28 billion, or 13%, from 2019. There were 17,445 certified organic farms, a 5% increase from 2019. California continued to lead the nation in certified organic sales with $3.55 billion, which is 32% of the national total. It also led all states with 3,061 certified farms and 813,710 certified acres. Washington ($1.14 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.09 billion), Texas ($572 million), and Oregon ($386 million) round out the top five states for value of organic sales. Marketing practices in the certified organic farming sector showed that $2.02 billion in organic products were sold directly to retail markets, institutions, and local/regional food hubs. Another $310 million in organic products were sold directly to consumers at farmers markets, on-farm stores and stands, roadside stands or stores, pick-your-own operations, community-supported agriculture farms, and online markets. The value of processed or value-added products such as jam, wine, cheese, and meat, accounted for $707 million. Twenty-eight percent of farms plan to increase their level of organic production. A total of 1,558 certified organic farms have 196,923 additional acres in the multi-year transition period required for land to become certified as organic. An additional 657 farms not currently certified reported 62,069 acres of land transitioning to organic production.
Related ATTRA resources: Organic Farming

Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Rural Energy for America Program Investments

ATTRA - Thu, 12/15/2022 - 22:38

USDA is investing $285 million through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to help farmers, ag producers, and entrepreneurs purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. In addition to these investments, USDA announced a further $300 million available under the Rural Energy for America Program. The deadline to apply for grants is March 31, 2023. Applications for technical assistance grants are due January 31, 2023.

Categories: Ag News

FruitGuys Community Fund Seeking Grant Review Committee Volunteers

ATTRA - Thu, 12/15/2022 - 22:15

FruitGuys Community Fund is seeking 20 volunteers to help evaluate applications for its 2023 Farm Grant program. The annual volunteer review committee donates approximately 15-20 hours February – March. Reviewers will read and score project proposals, attend group discussions, and help finalize recommendations for approval. Participation is virtual. If you are interested, complete a volunteer questionnaire online.

Categories: Ag News

Farm Aid Distributes Nearly $1.2 Million in 2022 Grants

ATTRA - Wed, 12/14/2022 - 22:38

Farm Aid announced that it distributed nearly $1.2 million in grant funding in 2022. Farm Aid prioritized grant proposals from organizations that facilitate farmer-led solutions to climate change — which was the focus of the annual Farm Aid festival — as well as organizations that support family farmers, advance racial equity and social justice, and build power for systemic change in our farm and food system. Farm Aid gave grants to 88 family farm, rural service and urban agriculture organizations, and also supported various grantmaking programs, including emergency, leadership, disaster, and strategic grants. NCAT received a $10,000 grant to provide hands-on technical assistance to small-scale farmers, beginning and new farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, farmers of color, and military veterans who are starting and managing farm businesses. A complete list of grant recipients is available online.

Categories: Ag News

Colorado Launches New Agricultural Loan Program

ATTRA - Wed, 12/14/2022 - 22:13

Colorado Department of Agriculture has launched a new loan program that provides financing for new or expanding farms, ranches, or agricultural businesses. The financially-inclusive lending program offers financing to beginning farmers and ranchers and businesses that transform, package, process, store, or grade Colorado farm or ranch products. It uses alternative forms of documentation to qualify loans that conventional lenders won’t consider. According to Colorado Department of Agriculture, “By providing agricultural infrastructure and operating loans to those who might not otherwise qualify for traditional lending opportunities, we are seeking to strengthen Colorado agriculture, expand diversity within farming, and increase participation from next-generation farmers.” The program offers loans up to $750,000 at a 4% fixed interest rate, for loan terms of one to 20 years.

Categories: Ag News

Food Systems Financing Guidebook Available

ATTRA - Tue, 12/13/2022 - 18:26

The Council of Development Finance Authorities (CDFA) has released CDFA Food Systems Finance: Best Practices Guidebook. The 32-page publication defines how traditional development finance tools can be used to launch and expand food and agricultural-related businesses and projects and create successful food systems finance programs at the local and regional levels. The guidebook is designed to help food systems practitioners learn more about finance and economic development professionals learn more about the role of food systems in building local economies. It provides a brief introduction to development finance and the food system, then dives deep into the toolbox approach to outline several development finance tools that can be used to respond to capital and resource needs throughout the food system. The publication includes examples of food system projects financed using the tools from the development finance toolbox, as well as action items that can be taken right now to create successful food systems finance programs.

Categories: Ag News

Guide Offers 11 Steps for Getting Started in Dairy Farming

ATTRA - Tue, 12/13/2022 - 18:00

The Center for Dairy Excellence recently published a new, 11-step guide to getting started as a dairy farmer. The Thinking About Getting Started as a Dairy Farmer? guide was created to help young professionals who want to find a meaningful career as a dairy producer learn the initial first steps to getting started. The guide also includes an in-depth list of industry resources to help individuals learn how to develop profitable, sustainable business models. The resource is available at no cost, and it is available digitally or as a downloadable file.

Categories: Ag News

New York Convenes State Agency Working Group to Support Farmers

ATTRA - Tue, 12/13/2022 - 17:50

New York’s governor Kathy Hochul announced that a special working group of state agencies and agricultural community stakeholders will collaborate to support New York farmers and help boost the agricultural industry. This Strategic Interagency Task Force Lessening Obstacles to Agriculture Working Group, as directed by the Governor in response to the concerns of farmers and industry stakeholders, will be chaired and convened by Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball. The group will work alongside representatives from commodity sectors of agriculture to identify challenges and to ensure agencies that interface with the state’s farmers communicate clearly, interact efficiently, and reduce burdensome requirements by focusing on future development. The emphasis will be on administrative actions that can be taken by the Governor and state agencies to provide an immediate and timely response to important issues around supporting and expanding food production in New York.

Categories: Ag News

Rebranded Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association Supports Producers

ATTRA - Tue, 12/13/2022 - 17:38

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is taking on a new name and broader focus to better serve specialty crop growers in the state. The newly branded Iowa Specialty Crop Growers Association will carry on the same duties, explains executive secretary Kendra Meyer. “We will continue the same educational outreach the association has been known for since its founding, but with renewed support for specialty crop growers and anyone involved with those industries.”

Categories: Ag News

USDA Announces Recipients of Second-Round Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities

ATTRA - Mon, 12/12/2022 - 22:53

USDA is investing an additional $325 million for 71 projects under the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities. Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is working to expand markets for American producers’ climate-smart commodities, leverage greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart production, and provide meaningful benefits to producers, including small and underserved producers. This pool of funding was for projects from $250,000 to $5 million. The funded projects include efforts to use climate-smart practices in bison production, incentives for climate-smart organic agricultural production, and a project that will pilot agrivoltaics for Hispanic producers. NCAT is a major partner on this agrivoltaic project led by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Categories: Ag News
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