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General Mills Announces Regenerative Agriculture Pilot with Kansas Wheat Growers

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 17:31

General Mills has launched a three-year regenerative agriculture pilot with 24 farmers in Kansas’ Cheney Reservoir watershed. The company targeted this watershed in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to improve water quality as part of the state-wide Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy. The growers were selected from participants who attended one of two, two-day Soil Health Academies in early November. The Understanding Ag consultants are meeting individually with each pilot participant to co-develop and implement regenerative management plans. Participating farmers will have access to continuing education via the Soil Health Academy, farmer-focused field days and a...

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Categories: Ag News

CSP Renewal Window Is March 13-20

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 17:07

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced that farmers and ranchers who initially enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) in Fiscal Years 2014, 2015, and 2016 can renew their contracts between March 13, 2020, and March 20, 2020. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) points out that renewing a CSP contract is easier than reapplying. CSP participants whose contracts expire this year can opt to extend them for another year, renew them for an additional five years, or let them expire. This year’s renewals will be ranked competitively, using NRCS’s new Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART). Farmers will also...

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Categories: Ag News

New Publication Helps Plant Breeders Keep Genetic Resources in Public Domain

Fri, 02/21/2020 - 12:08

Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) and Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) have released a new free resource for plant breeders, entitled A Breed Apart: The Plant Breeder’s Guide to Preventing Patents through Defensive Publication. The guide outlines practices for plant breeders to keep genetic resources in the public domain. It explains how a printed publication that establishes a plant variety as “prior art” renders that variety ineligible for a patent in the future. “This guide is essential for anyone in the plant world trying to prevent plant genetic material from being co-opted—or simply trying to...

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Categories: Ag News

French Parking Garages Becoming Home to Organic Vegetable Production

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 14:49

Related ATTRA Publication: Start a Farm in the City The company Cycloponics is growing organic vegetables in empty underground parking garages in Paris, reports Euractiv. Because fewer people have cars now, there are many unused garages in the city, and the company founded by a thermal engineer and an agronomist has been able to establish operations growing mushrooms and endives. The underground spaces help regulate temperatures, and are conveniently located for bicycle delivery of the final product to customers in the city. The company is planning for expansion in France, and other European capitals have expressed interest in the operation.

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Categories: Ag News

California Certified Organic Farmers Releases Roadmap to Organic California

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:24

California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) released Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report, a plan to use organic farming to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. The report outlines the next steps that will maximize organic’s ability to combat climate change and ensure food security under a changing climate. It guides policymakers through the next steps to use organic to sequester more carbon, stimulate local economies, and protect the health of all Californians. Beyond the climate benefits, the report outlines the economic and health value of organic farming.

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Launches Agriculture Innovation Agenda

Thu, 02/20/2020 - 12:04

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, by which USDA will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. The first component of the Ag Innovation Agenda is to develop a U.S. ag-innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research. The second component is to align the work of customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs. The third component is to conduct a review of USDA productivity and conservation...

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Categories: Ag News

Food System Focus Would Help Solve Climate Change, Says Study

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 19:40

A paper in the journal Nature Food presents a new global food-system approach to climate-change research. The authors of the paper worked together on the Food Security chapter of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Climate Change and Land, and their new approach brings together agricultural production, supply chains, and consumption. The authors propose that to respond to climate change via their food systems, countries can now move beyond traditional supply-side mitigation in crop and livestock production to encompass demand-side strategies, mainly dietary changes. The authors say the maximum amount of greenhouse gas reduction achievable through...

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Categories: Ag News

New York Awards Funding for Farm to School Projects

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 19:19

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $1.5 million has been awarded to 16 projects to increase the use of New York farm products in schools and boost the agricultural economy, through Round 5 of the Farm-to-School program. The Farm-to-School program increases the volume and variety of locally grown and produced food in schools, provides new markets for New York’s farmers, improves student health, and educates young people about agriculture. The program also supports the expansion of the NY Thursdays Program, a school meal initiative that uses local, farm-fresh foods on Thursdays throughout the school year. The funding will...

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Categories: Ag News

Food Planet Prize Awards Established

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 19:11

The new Curt Bergfors Foundation in Sweden will award the Food Planet Prize, two $1-million awards annually. One prize will be awarded to an existing scalable solution for sustainable foods. The second will be awarded for innovative initiatives that could transform the global food sector. The Curt Bergfors Food Planet Prize aims to recognize ground-breaking initiatives from across the food value chain and around the world that address the Food Planet Challenge. Nominations for The Food Planet Prize are due by April 30, 2020.

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Categories: Ag News

Greenhouse Manual Helps Educators Maximize Potential

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 17:18

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), and City Blossoms have released Greenhouse Manual: An Introductory Guide for Educators. The manual is an easy-to-use guide designed to help educators who have access to greenhouses with planting gardens, growing for Farm to School programs, or integrating plant science into an existing curriculum. The manual opens with a basic explanation of greenhouses and continues with how to integrate their use into classroom and out-of-classroom learning. It contains lesson plans and information on greenhouse operation, growing plants, starting seeds, plant nutrition, disease and pest management, greenhouse budgeting,...

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Categories: Ag News

California Inviting Applications to Serve on Industrial Hemp Advisory Board

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 21:08

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Pest Exclusion Branch is accepting applications to fill 13 vacancies on the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board (IHAB). The Board advises CDFA and makes recommendations on matters including, but not limited to, industrial hemp seed law and regulations, enforcement, annual budgets, and the setting of an assessment rate. The term of office for board members is three years. Members include registered cultivators of industrial hemp, as well as industry representatives and other stakeholders. Individuals interested in being considered for these Board appointments should send a letter of interest and resume by March 15,...

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Categories: Ag News

Organic Producer Surveys Underway

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 11:50

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are conducting two national surveys: one for certified organic producers and the other for producers transitioning to organic certification. This collaborative effort is part of a USDA-funded project seeking to learn more about the challenges and research priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, and those transitioning land to certified organic production. Survey results will be published in updated versions of OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda report and OSA’s State of Organic Seed report. If you are a certified organic farmer/rancher, respond to the online survey at www.opinion.wsu.edu/organicproduction. If you...

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Categories: Ag News

Wind Energy Payments Aid Farm Viability

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 21:00

Related ATTRA Publication: Locally Owned Renewable Energy Facilities Payments from wind energy companies for hosting turbines are helping some farmers stay in business and plan for the future, according to a USA Today feature. Rental payments for land where turbines are sited has helped some farmers pay off equipment, plan for retirement, weather droughts and market price drops, and make succession plans. Some wind energy companies even offer small payments to neighbors of turbines, and wind development can bring jobs to rural communities. Studies show that people receiving payments tend to view wind energy favorably. The country’s strongest wind resources...

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Categories: Ag News

Report Outlines Farm to School Potential in New York

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 15:23

Related ATTRA Publication: Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions American Farmland Trust released Growing Opportunity for Farm to School: How to Revolutionize School Food, Support Local Farms, and Improve the Health of Students in New York. This report reveals the incredible economic potential for the New York farm economy of recent farm to school initiatives, as well as their opportunity to increase access to healthy, local food for kids throughout the state. According to the report, New York schools could increase their purchases of food from New York farms threefold to nearly $150 million, which would generate over $210 million...

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Categories: Ag News

Virginia Tech Study Testing Bee-Friendly Cattle Forage

Mon, 02/17/2020 - 15:17

A study led by a Virginia Tech professor will test pasture mixes of native prairie grasses and wildflowers to find the best combination for both cattle and bees. A team that includes Virginia Tech, the University of Tennessee, cooperating farmers, and a nonprofit called Virginia Working Landscapes received a federal grant for half of the $1.8 million project. The team will test 20 different wildflowers in combination with native grasses on pastures at research centers and on farms in Tennessee and Virginia. Adding native wildflowers to pastures in the fescue belt could become a new conservation practice that USDA’s National...

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Categories: Ag News

Report Highlights the Viability of Small-Scale Agriculture

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 19:47

California’s Santa Clara County Food System Alliance released Small Farms, Big Potential: Growing a resilient local food system, a 100-page report that highlights the viability of local small-scale agriculture. The report notes that in Santa Clara County, 52% of farmland parcels are 10 acres or less. The report dispels the myth that small farms cannot be viable in the county and builds on the recommendations of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Plan. The report includes nine Farmer Profiles that illustrate the diversity and success of local farms.

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Categories: Ag News

Sweet Pepper Varieties Evaluated for Organic Production

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 19:08

Related ATTRA Publication: Resource Guide to Organic and Sustainable Vegetable Production University of Georgia researchers tested the yields of 13 different sweet pepper varieties under organic production. The study results were published in the open access journal HortTechnology, and the complete article is available online. The study evaluated total yield, graded yield, and early yield of the peppers in a hot, humid climate. Top varieties included Aristotle X3R and Gridiron for fancy and early yield, as well as Sweet Chocolate for early yield.

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Categories: Ag News

Iowa Farms Test Camelina as Corn and Soy Cover Crop

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 16:03

Practical Farmers of Iowa issued a research report on on-farm testing of camelina as a cover crop for use with corn and soy rotations. Farmers looking for winter-hardy alternatives to small-grain cover crops tried the brassica camelina as a cover crop. In one of three on-farm tests seeded in Fall 2018, the camelina winterkilled. At the other two sites, soy and corn yields were not affected by the camelina cover crop, compared to no cover crop. One of the farmers participating noted that the camelina’s small seed size allowed lower seeding rates that would lower application costs.

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Categories: Ag News

Apply Now for Armed to Urban Farm in Baltimore

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:03

In partnership with the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), NCAT is bringing the week-long Armed to Urban Farm veterans’ sustainable agriculture training to Baltimore, Maryland, May 4-8, 2020. Armed to Urban Farm gives military veterans an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and learn about urban farming as a career. Armed to Urban Farm, which is based on NCAT’s popular Armed to Farm program, combines engaging classroom sessions with farm tours and hands-on activities. The program is available to military veterans who are interested in starting an urban farm or who are beginning urban farmers. All veterans are...

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Categories: Ag News

Minnesota Emerging Farmer Report Addresses Barriers

Fri, 02/14/2020 - 11:53

Related ATTRA Resources: Starting your Farm Business Results of six listening sessions conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture have been collected in a report, Emerging Farmers in Minnesota. The report lays out recommendations on reducing or eliminating barriers that make it more difficult for the next generation to enter or stay in agriculture. The report also suggests creation of an Emerging Farmers Task Force in the state. “People who identify as emerging farmers feel unseen in the current system,” Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey said. “We have tried to identify in this report ways to make our agricultural economy more...

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Categories: Ag News