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Updated: 11 hours 54 min ago

Study Points to Neonicotinoids as Major Factor in Bird Biodiversity Decline

Sun, 08/16/2020 - 18:58

A new study from the University of Illinois points to increased use of neonicotinoid insecticides as a major factor in the decline of bird biodiversity in the United States. The study, published in Nature Sustainability, tracked the pesticide’s impact on birds at a national scale over seven years, using data from hundreds of bird species classified as grassland birds, non-grassland birds, insectivores, and non-insectivores. “We found robust evidence of the negative impact of neonicotinoids, in particular on grassland birds, and to some extent on insectivore birds after controlling for the effects of changes in land use,” said study co-author Madhu...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Creating Farm Service Agency County Committees for Urban Agriculture

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 20:47

USDA has announced the creation of new Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees focused exclusively on urban agriculture. County committees represent farmers and set priorities at the local level. The committees are organized through USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, and the first five will be located in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; and Richmond, Virginia. USDA plans to announce locations for five additional county committees in the fall. The urban and suburban county committees will work to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production practices. Additionally, the new county committees...

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Categories: Ag News

Grants Help Minnesota Businesses Improve Livestock Processing Capacity

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 17:55

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has awarded $208,213 to 46 Minnesota livestock processing plants and producers to help them increase capacity for slaughter, processing and storage in the wake of supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The MDA Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Program’s Rapid Response Mini-Grant for Livestock Processing offered up to $5,000 to applicants to offset the cost of expenses such as adding coolers, refrigeration units, slaughter and processing equipment. The grant funding required a 1:1 match and expenses must make immediate impact on the state’s capacity to process or store Minnesota-raised livestock, poultry,...

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Categories: Ag News

Survey Underway on How Citrus Greening Affects Organic Growers

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 17:49

The University of Florida and the University of California, Riverside, and The Organic Center have partnered with several citrus growers and industry members to conduct a national review of how citrus greening disease is impacting organic growers and other industry members. An online survey of organic citrus growers and industry members is open until October 20, 2020. The information collected will be used to develop a large-scale holistic research project proposal targeted toward protecting organic citrus growers from citrus greening, slowing the spread, and reducing damage to currently infected groves.

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Categories: Ag News

Fall Meeting of National Organic Standards Board Moves to Virtual Format

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 21:02

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) announced that its Fall 2020 Meeting will be held live online, instead of in-person. This decision will allow the Board to safely deliberate in an open and public setting. The meeting will be held over the course of five afternoons from October 20 through October 30, 2020. Meeting materials including the agenda, public comment registration links, and other resources will be available at the NOSB Fall 2020 Meeting webpage. All speakers making public comments must sign up in advance. Members of the public will be able to hear the live comments, Board deliberations, and...

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Categories: Ag News

Report Documents Premium Value of Organic-Certified Farmland

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 20:39

A new report from Mercaris’ Mercoterra Project looked at the monetary value of certified organic field crop farms to assess whether these farm values are significantly different from comparable conventional field crop farmland in several areas of the Corn Belt and East Coast. The Mercoterra Project findings demonstrate that there is a premium of 25% being paid for organic rental land in the United States. Furthermore, for those whose rent both organic and conventional land, in some cases organic land commands a higher cash rental rate than comparable conventionally farmed land. Both the project report and an on-demand webinar are...

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Categories: Ag News

Focus Group Hosts Needed for Organic Survey

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 20:29

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are conducting a USDA-funded national survey of certified organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production to identify their top challenges and research/Extension needs. As part of this project, they are seeking applications from organizations that support certified organic and transitioning agricultural producers, to facilitate and coordinate a virtual focus group. Focus group data will be used to inform the 2021 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) and State of Organic Seed (SOS) reports. OFRF will provide organizations a $1,000 stipend for their help coordinating and facilitating one virtual focus...

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Categories: Ag News

Regenerative Organic Certified Standard Accepting Products

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 14:12

The Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) announced that the Regenerative Organic Certified™ (ROC™) certification standard for food, fiber, and personal care products has completed its pilot phase and is now open for general certification. Before being eligible for ROC, farms must first hold USDA organic certification. ROC then adds further criteria to ensure soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. The new certification also has three levels—bronze, silver, and gold. The levels require farms and businesses to phase in more rigorous regenerative organic practices over time. Following completion of a pilot program, ROA will now increase the number of approved certifiers...

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Categories: Ag News

Expanded Agroforestry Webinar Library Offers Resources

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 14:01

The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) has recently updated its library of archived webinars related to agroforestry practices and related issues, including webinars presented by NAC staff. The expanded library now contains more than 160 archived webinars and can be filtered by agroforestry practice or by year. Additionally, NAC’s index of SARE grants related to agroforestry has also been updated to include reports on 15 new projects related to alley cropping, forest farming, windbreaks, and silvopasture.

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Categories: Ag News

Additional Commodities Added to Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Tue, 08/11/2020 - 13:39

USDA announced additional commodities that will be covered by the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Also, the deadline to apply for the program has been extended to September 11, 2020. The newly added products include nursery crops and cut flowers, several aquaculture species, liquid and frozen eggs, sheep, and a number of specialty crops including microgreens and pumpkins. The full list is available online. Furthermore, USDA announced that producers who already had approved applications and received 80% payments will automatically receive the remaining 20% of their payments.

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Categories: Ag News

Chicago to Gain New Urban Farming Campus

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 15:27

Related ATTRA Publication: Micro-Scale Biogas Production: A Beginners Guide A $3 million state investment will help bring a new urban farming campus to Chicago’s south side. The $32 million project will transform a vacant brownfield parcel into a new Green Era Urban Farming Campus that will provide access to fresh food, renewable energy, and resilient growth for a community that has historically suffered from disinvestment and a lack of employment opportunities. Green Era’s farming campus leverages cutting edge technology for sustainable outcomes to increase local food supply, while transforming waste bound for landfills into reusable sustainable energy for local businesses....

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Changes CRP Emergency Haying and Grazing Provisions

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:08

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has announced policy changes that streamline the process for emergency haying and grazing of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Previously, emergency haying and grazing requests originated with FSA at the county level and required state and national level approval. Now approval will be based on drought severity as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Producers located in a county that is designated as severe drought (D2) or greater on or after the last day of the primary nesting season are eligible for emergency haying and grazing on all eligible acres. Additionally, producers...

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Categories: Ag News

Virtual Listening Sessions Scheduled on Feasibility of Insuring Local Food Production

Mon, 08/10/2020 - 10:48

Related ATTRA Publication: Is Organic Farming Risky? Improving Crop Insurance for Organic Farms Under contract to USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), Agralytica is holding a series of virtual listening sessions to collect feedback from farmers and ranchers who sell to local food markets, and their representatives in the federal crop insurance industry. As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress required RMA to solicit feedback about improved crop insurance coverage options for farmers and ranchers selling to local food markets, including but not limited to farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), roadside stands, restaurants, retailers, schools, and institutions. This includes...

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Categories: Ag News

Research Investigates Role for Birds in IPM

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 17:28

Related ATTRA Publication: Beneficial and Pest Birds: Vertebrate IPM Tip Sheet University of Kentucky doctoral student Karina Garcia is studying the many ways birds positively and negatively affect crops and whether farmers could incorporate some bird species into their integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. She published a review of research on birds in agriculture, highlighting examples of agricultural benefits from birds, as well as discussing technologies that could help birds be integrated successfully into IPM programs. Garcia notes that much more research is needed to determine the impacts that different bird species have upon crops. One example would be DNA-based...

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Categories: Ag News

New Publication Explores Agriculture’s Potential Contribution to Clean Water

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 16:51

Related ATTRA Publication: Protecting Riparian Areas: Farmland Management Strategies Pasa Sustainable Agriculture has published a new report, Water Farming: Managing Agricultural Lands for Clean & Safe Water. This booklet examines both the challenges and opportunities agriculture offers for improving water quality and, in turn, human and environmental health. It also explores why implementing sustainable farming practices—like planting cover crops, rotationally grazing livestock, and maintaining riparian buffers—is one of the most straightforward and cost-effective solutions available for alleviating water pollution. Although the geographic focus for this booklet is Pennsylvania, the core issues discussed—water, farming, and a sustainable future—are global.

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Launches Customer Experience Survey

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 16:16

USDA has launched a new annual customer experience survey to evaluate USDA customer service and help identify areas for improvement. The survey specifically covers the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Risk Management Agency (RMA). A selection of 28,000 producers will receive the survey over the next few weeks, but all farmers are encouraged to take the survey online. The survey consists of 20 questions and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Responses are confidential, and individual responses will be aggregated. The survey will be open for at least six weeks and will be closed once...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Risk Management Agency Extends Deadlines, Defers Interest

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 14:07

Related ATTRA Publication: Is Organic Farming Risky? Improving Crop Insurance for Organic Farms USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced that it will authorize Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) to extend deadlines for premium and administrative fee payments, and that it will defer the resulting interest accrual and allow other flexibilities to help farmers, ranchers, and insurance providers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, USDA is authorizing AIPs to provide policyholders additional time to pay premium and administrative fees and to waive accrual of interest to the earlier of 60 days after their scheduled payment due date or the termination date on...

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Categories: Ag News

Online Toolkit Supports Local Food Purchasing

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:04

Related ATTRA Resources: Local Food Systems Local Food is Essential is a movement founded by Minnesota and Wisconsin non-profits, businesses, and farming organizations in response to the unexpected challenges facing producers and makers in the MN/WI food system as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Local Food is Essential website is offering an online campaign toolkit for local food, including web banners, sample posters, and logos formatted for social media. The toolkit also contains a variety of recipes and a branded blank recipe card. Access to the toolkit is free for individuals and organizations.

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Categories: Ag News

Extension Video Series Offers Energy Answers for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 11:24

Related ATTRA Resources: Renewable Energy Options Extension programs from Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, and Virginia Tech have introduced a YouTube channel called Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer & Rancher. USDA sponsored the development of a series of extension materials that utilize farm energy experts from university extension programs across the country to answer hot-topic energy questions for beginning farmers and ranchers. Topics for the short videos include energy audits, biodiesel, livestock ventilation, sizing produce coolers, solar on a farm, and many more.

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Categories: Ag News

Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings Class Moves Online for 2020-2021

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 20:47

Related ATTRA Resources: Beginning Farmer Tutorials The Land Stewardship Project is moving its beginning farmer training course, Farm Beginnings, online this year. The year-long course helps beginning farmers clarify their goals and strengths, establish a strong enterprise plan, and start building their operation. This year, sessions will take place online from November through March, with on-farm educational events to follow later in 2021. Applications are due September 15, 2020, but applications that are received and accepted before August 15, 2020, will receive a $100 discount. Applicants from Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northern Iowa will be given priority. The course is...

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Categories: Ag News