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Evaluation of Aquaculture Offers Framework for More Sustainable Future

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 20:27

Related ATTRA Resource: Sustainable Fisheries A study led by the Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture Futures in the United Kingdom analyzed the interaction of human, environmental, and animal health (so-called ‘One Health’) parameters in aquaculture. The results, published in the journal Nature Food, recognize that societal buy-in, equity of access to the food produced, and environmental protection must be adequately addressed as the aquaculture industry expands over coming decades. The analysis identified a set of success metrics that are proposed for inclusion into national aquaculture strategies across the globe to improve sustainability as the industry expands.

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Categories: Ag News

Video Discusses Impacts and Sources of Soil Acidification

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 20:03

A new nine-minute video from Montana State University Extension shows the impact and causes of soil acidification and offers Montana farmers management options to prevent, adapt to, or correct acidic soil, which can lead to heavy yield losses. When pH drops below 6, legumes have trouble fixing nitrogen, and when pH goes below 5, aluminum that exists naturally in soil is released and can be taken up by plants, damaging crops. Research shows that ammonium fertilizers, including urea, are the major cause of soil acidification in agricultural soils. Liming and manure applications are the primary long-term fixes for acidic soil,...

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Categories: Ag News

California Rangeland Conservation Provides $1 Billion in Annual Benefits, Says Study

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 17:52

Related ATTRA Publication: Payments for Ecosystem Services A study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements across the state provide $900 million to $1.44 billion in environmental benefits annually—including habitat, carbon sequestration, food, and watersheds. The study explored both the environmental and monetary value of 306,718 acres of conservation easements. The study also found that under current zoning requirements, conservation easements return up to $3.47 for every dollar invested. The study’s findings estimate that conservation efforts by California Rangeland Trust provide ecosystem services valued at more than $236 million in food and $13.9...

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Categories: Ag News

Team Studies Soils to Identify Best Wild Bee Habitat

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 16:04

Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees A team from Oregon State University published the results of its work on interactions between ground-nesting bees and soils in Soil Science Society of America Journal. Ground-nesting bees can be important crop pollinators, but little is known about the best soil habitats for them. This study explored the physical and chemical properties of soils collected from active bee and sand nest wasp sites in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. This study found that active nesting sites were present in locations with little to no rock cover and low vegetation. Nesting sites were...

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Categories: Ag News

Farmers Markets Partner in ‘Give Back NY’ Initiative

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 15:56

Forty-six farmers markets across New York are participating in the Give Back NY initiative in honor of National Farmers Market Week, August 2-8, 2020. Coordinated by the Farmers Market Federation of New York, Give Back NY invites farmers markets to connect with the emergency food programs and pantries serving their region to host food drives. Consumers and farmers are encouraged to offer donations to their neighborhood food programs during their visit to the farmers market during National Farmers Market Week. The Farmers Market Federation of New York put together a toolkit to help both food pantries and farmers markets prepare...

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Categories: Ag News

Agricultural Marketing Service Proposing Rule to Strengthen Organic Enforcement

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 07:11

Related ATTRA Publication: Organic Certification Process USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing to amend the USDA organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. The proposed amendments are intended to protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations. Topics addressed by the proposed rule include unannounced on-site inspections of certified operations, annual update requirements for certified operations, certifying agent personnel qualifications...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Economic Research Service Posts Page on COVID-19 Economic Implications

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 21:44

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has posted a topic page that highlights ERS research and data specifically produced to help interpret and understand the emerging vulnerabilities and impacts for agriculture, food, and rural America resulting from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. ERS’ research program considers links in the farm-to-consumer supply chain that may be affected by the pandemic, including farms, processers, handlers, retail outlets, and trade. ERS also examines the economic impacts of the pandemic on consumers, food assistance program participants, residents of rural America, and farmers. The page will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Categories: Ag News

Minnesota Emerging Farmer Microloan Program Doubles Maximum Loan

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 21:37

The Pilot Agricultural Microloan Program from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Rural Finance Authority (RFA) is doubling the maximum amount that emerging farmers can borrow, to $20,000. Loan funds can be used for working capital (annual costs such as seed, feed, fertilizer, land rent) or equipment and other farm asset purchases with a common useful life of 10 years or less. Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible: be a resident of Minnesota, be a member of a Protected Group or a qualified non-citizen as defined under Minnesota statutes, use the funds toward production and marketing of...

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Categories: Ag News

‘Eat Local First Directory’ Helps Washington Consumers Find Producers

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 21:34

Eat Local First Collaborative, a group of food system organizations from Washington state, has created the Eat Local First WA Directory, an online resource that merges a number of online farm-finding tools. Eat Local First collects food finder resources for the state and regions within it. An interactive food and farm map helps connect consumers with food producers. Users can also find features like Community Supported Agriculture shares, farmers markets, online ordering and home delivery, and various other ways to connect with local farmers and food businesses.

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Categories: Ag News

National Farmers Market Week is August 2-8, 2020

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:42

National Farmers Market Week is set for August 2-8, 2020. Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) points out that this is a great opportunity to show the nation how much value markets bring to their communities. FMC offers resources, tools, and fun activities for market managers, vendors, and attendees to use for planning and participating in National Farmers Week, as well as examples of how some markets have observed National Farmers Market Week in the past. FMC has more than 30 downloadable templates, tools, graphics, and resources available online for farmers market operators to use to plan and celebrate National Farmers Market...

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Categories: Ag News

Farm Stress Training Course Offered Online

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:27

A new free online course called “Rural Resilience: Farm Stress Training” is available to teach participants stress management, suicide awareness, and how to communicate with farmers suffering from stress. USDA’s Cooperative Extension System, Farm Credit, American Farm Bureau Federation, and National Farmers Union worked together to bring this course online for the public. The content was created by Extension professionals at Michigan State University, University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin, Montana State University, and South Dakota State University. In this course, you will learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and suicide, ways to effectively communicate with people...

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Categories: Ag News

Penn State Studying Agricultural Systems in Urbanizing Landscapes

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 18:28

A five-year study led by Penn State is exploring how food systems in urbanized landscapes can remain economically and environmentally sustainable. Researchers say 97% of net farm income in Pennsylvania is from metropolitan regions and adjacent, nonmetro counties. However, the sustainability of agriculture in these areas is threatened by competition for land and water and by complaints about the “disamenities” of agriculture, such as dust, odors, and pollution. The team is evaluating how on-farm practices, such as nutrient management, and policy tools, such as zoning, could impact a shared future with agriculture. The project is in its first year, and...

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Categories: Ag News

Restore Texas Grasslands Revitalization Partnership Created

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 18:05

Researchers with the Texas A&M University System received a grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture for research, education and outreach relating to grassland revitalization in Texas. The $364,854 grant provided funding to create the Restore Texas Grasslands Revitalization Partnership, which will foster education, research, and outreach programs relating to the sustainable management of grassland ecosystems in Texas. Among other objectives, the project will provide high-impact learning experiences and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. The team has chosen three research priority areas to guide future studies: woody plant expansion, water resources, and soil health.

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Categories: Ag News

NCAT Project Evaluates Cover Crops for Lower Rio Grande Valley

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 17:42

Related ATTRA Video: Sunn Hemp (Crotalaria juncea) USDA posted a blog on the Subtropical Soil Health Initiative, a Conservation Innovation Grant project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley that is led by the National Center for Appropriate Technology. The project is a collaboration with a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley team that is testing different cover crops in the field to determine the best species for farmers in the hot, humid Lower Rio Grande Valley. Sunn Hemp appears to be the best option to date. Local farmers have been very involved in the project, and the project team envisions...

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Categories: Ag News

Video Explains Meat Inspection Regulations

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 07:51

Related ATTRA Publication: Working with Your Meat Processor The Organization for Competitive Markets has posted a video on Meat Processing and Inspection with Dr. James Dillon, Director of the Texas Meat and Poultry Inspection Program. The video discusses the difference between federal, state, and custom-exempt inspection, as well as the implications of different legislation relative to each type of inspection. The one-hour video and a PDF file of the slides from the presentation are both available online.

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Categories: Ag News

North Central SARE Recognizes Heroes

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 21:23

North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) announce that Donn Teske and Fred Madison have been named the 2020 NCR-SARE Heroes. The NCR-SARE Hero Recognition highlights, recognizes, and pays tribute to those who have made significant contributions to NCR-SARE and/or National SARE. Farmer Donn Teske worked for the Kansas Rural Center and the Kansas State University Agricultural Economics Department and served as National Farmers Union Vice President from 2014-2018. Teske served on NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council from 2011 until 2018. Fred Madison, “Dr. Dirt,” is receiving his recognition posthumously. He served on the Administrative Council for 15 years and...

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Categories: Ag News

Study Shows Fruit-Crop Yields Declining from Lack of Pollinators

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 21:01

Related ATTRA Publication: Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees Research led by Rutgers and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences shows that crop yields for apples, cherries, and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators. Scientists collected data on insect pollination of crop flowers and yield at 131 farms across the United States and in Canada. Apples, sweet cherries, tart cherries, and blueberries showed evidence of being limited by pollination, indicating that yields are currently lower than they would be with full pollination. The findings suggest that adopting practices that conserve or...

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Categories: Ag News

Soil-animal Biomass Declining from Climate Change and Cultivation

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 16:06

Related ATTRA Publication: Nutrient Cycling in Pastures Scientists from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig say the biomass of small animals that decompose plants in the soil is declining both as a result of climate change and over-intensive cultivation. They explain that while the changing climate reduces the body size of the organisms, cultivation reduces their frequency. The researchers warn in the trade journal eLife that even by farming organically, it is not possible to counteract all the negative consequences of climate change, which challenges soil animals with high...

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Categories: Ag News

Western Meat School Short Course Offered for Meat Producers and Processors

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 15:06

Related ATTRA Publication: Direct Marketing Lamb: A Pathway A new direct-marketing short course for meat producers and processors will be offered in November and December. The Western Meat School is a collaborative effort of Oregon State University, Montana State University, University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, and Mesalands Community College. This six-week-long course for farmers, ranchers, butchers, and others will cover key topics in production, processing, and marketing to produce high-quality meat and sell to diverse market channels. Learn new ways to manage risk in your meat business and improve your profitability. Expert speakers, both practitioners and academics, will be...

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Categories: Ag News

USDA Advises Farmers on Handling Unsolicited Seeds

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 14:50

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it is investigating suspicious, unsolicited packages of seed that appear to be coming from China. USDA urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to immediately contact their State plant regulatory official or APHIS State plant health director. USDA advises recipients to hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from the State department of agriculture or APHIS contacts them with further instructions. Do not plant seeds from unknown origins. USDA is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if...

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Categories: Ag News