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NCAT - News 07/16/2019 19:36
Market data and online trading platform Mercaris has released a Spring Planting Special Report detailing how organic field crop acreage has been impacted by unprecedented cold and wet springtime weather this year. Mercaris found that less than 3% of U.S. organic field crop acres were located in areas impacted by this spring’s most significant flooding but organic growers were still affected by above-average precipitation. The report analyzes how organic growers are using tools like crop insurance and alternative cropping techniques in order to cope with losses this season. Mercaris also conducted a survey of farmers and found that a significant...
NCAT - News 07/16/2019 19:28
USDA announced the award of more than $9 million for 126 Farm to School Program grants. The recipients are from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and these projects are expected to serve more than 3.2 million students in more than 5,400 schools. Grants range from $20,000 to $100,000 and fund equipment purchases and experiential learning activities including planting school gardens, offering taste tests to children, and organizing field trips to local farms and food producers.
NCAT - News 07/13/2019 19:29
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that information on the amount and types of agricultural credit to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (SDFR) is limited. Congress directed GAO to study agricultural credit services provided to SDFRs, because minorities and women comprise a disproportionately small share of agricultural producers, and certain minority groups have alleged discrimination in obtaining agricultural credit. GAO identified a number of challenges that reportedly hamper SDFRs’ ability to obtain private agricultural credit. However, GAO noted that comprehensive data on SDFRs’ outstanding agricultural debt are not available because regulations generally prohibit lenders from collecting data on the...
NCAT - News 07/13/2019 19:08
A team of researchers writing in Global Change Biology says that global food security is at increased risk from farming trends such as monocultures taking up more agricultural land and more crops relying on insects for pollination. The team analyzed UN FAO data from 1961-2016 and found that despite more land being used for agriculture worldwide, the diversity of the crops being grown has declined. Additionally, 16 of the 20 fastest-increasing crops require pollination by insects or other animals, which are themselves at risk. The researchers point out that although poorer regions of the world are at the greatest risk,...
NCAT - News 07/13/2019 17:34
The Guardian reports on a farm in Portugal that is using silvopasture to create a new montado, or diverse pre-medieval Portuguese system of farming. Alfredo Cunhal was managing his family’s land as a monocrop farmer, but then turned to a diverse system that uses herds of animals and productive trees and shrubs to produce numerous products. “This used to be a cork oak farm,” says Cunhal. “Now cork is just 5% of the turnover. Four years ago we were 100% dependent on the open market and wholesalers. Now nearly 50% of what we grow is sold directly to consumers. We...
NCAT - News 07/13/2019 17:05
A grazing school held in Missouri showcased Grazing Acres Farm, where the Pemberton family has utilized cost share and rotational grazing to renovate pasture and improve animal performance, reports University of Missouri Extension. They renovated toxic fescue pastures with a mix of warm- and cool-season grasses and legumes. Annuals help carry them through the summer slump. Water development and shade trees help further improve animal productivity. Cost-share programs through NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program, the Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the 2002 Farm Bill’s Conservation Security Program helped the Pembertons fund fencing, structures, and watering systems.
NCAT - News 07/12/2019 21:06
The Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) has published a new paper in its Food Finance White Paper Series. Food Systems & Bonds provides a basic overview of bonds and describes specific types that could be relevant to food-related businesses and projects, with example case studies of each. With this series, CDFA aims to offer useful information for those working in the food system about the variety of development finance tools available to support food-related projects, as well as evidence that such financing programs are successful when applied to efforts within the food system. The 16-page publication is available free...
NCAT - News 07/10/2019 23:50
Related ATTRA Publication: Livestock as a Tool: Improving Soil Health, Boosting Crops Researchers at Montana State University are exploring the effect that grazing sheep on vegetable or cover crop plots has on soil health. They are studying how using grazing sheep for weed control might reduce the need for tillage or chemical herbicides. After two years of in-field testing on three cooperating farms, they’ve found that grazing sheep add fertility to the soil, reduce the need for tillage, and don’t appear to cause soil compaction. The third year of the Western SARE-funded project involves outreach to producers in the form...
NCAT - News 07/10/2019 23:39
Integrating sheep with vineyards yields substantial cost savings for farmers, as well as benefits for soil and ecosystems. Researchers from the University of Vermont brought the practice of integrating sheep with a vineyard to the state of Vermont for the first time, and they’re working with local vineyards on a study that evaluates “the whole system—the health of the grapes, the animals, the forage and soil, as well as the consumer perceptions, or marketability potential. The existing research on this work has largely looked at these different components in pieces, rather than trying to understand all of these interactions together,”...
NCAT - News 07/10/2019 21:42
A study by the University of Florida, funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, showed that grafting can help with disease control in tomatoes grown organically in a high tunnel. Specialty tomatoes grafted onto two disease-resistant rootstocks effectively managed Fusarium wilt and were healthier overall than four non-grafted control cultivars. Additionally, fruit yield was considerably higher in the grafted plants. This higher yield meant the grafted tomatoes were more profitable, even though they had a higher production cost.
NCAT - News 07/09/2019 21:20
Farm Aid has announced that its annual music and food festival will return to Wisconsin on September 21, 2019. The event will take place at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin, and will include performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, as well as Bonnie Raitt, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Margo Price, Jamey Johnson, Tanya Tucker, Brothers Osborne, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Yola, and Particle Kid. “At Farm Aid 2019, we’ll highlight solutions [to the national farm crisis] and show our support...
NCAT - News 07/09/2019 21:06
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Hemphill County will offer a course on grazing and animal management over the next ten months. The class meets monthly for four hours, beginning July 17, 2019, and offering 40 hours of in-depth educational training for ranchers, landowners, and any stakeholders interested in advancing the value of their agricultural endeavors. There are a maximum of 30 spots available on a first-come basis. The course covers grazing economics, ecological processes, animal nutrition, managed grazing, goal setting, and infrastructure development and planning.
NCAT - News 07/09/2019 19:45
The Weed Science Society of America reports that yield loss for dry bean and sugar beet crops in weedy, uncontrolled plots is 70%. The long-term studies of dry beans and sugar beets determined that every dollar invested in weed management produced significant returns: an estimated $12 and $23 for growers of dry beans and sugar beets, respectively. The study found that the most troublesome weeds in those crops include common lambsquarters and kochia, as well as species in the pigweed (Amaranthus) and nightshade (Solanum) genera.
NCAT - News 07/09/2019 19:26
The Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan has announced its further expansion by moving into the state of Kansas for the 2020 Plan year. This self-insured arrangement already offers coverage to farmers of participating co-ops and individual farmers within the Land O’Lakes network in Minnesota and Nebraska. With the expansion into Kansas, more than 60 cooperatives and their farmers are now eligible. Farmers participating in the Land O’Lakes Cooperative Farmer Member Health Plan can choose from several ACA compliant plans that are more affordable than plans offered in the current individual market. Land O’Lakes is working to expand this...
NCAT - News 07/07/2019 18:24
As part of its ongoing video series on organic weed control, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) has posted a 20-minute video on cultivator adjustment. In this video, several PFI farmers talk about which adjustments they make to throw more or less soil, including adjustments to the pitch of sweeps, top link adjustments, how close sweeps are to the rows, and differences in adjustments between cultivators. They also discuss how they deal with differing weather conditions, using rolling or tent shields early in the year and using flow shields later in the year, and how speed plays into all of it.
NCAT - News 07/07/2019 13:27
An international team of researchers published a study in Science Advances showing that the genetics of an individual cow strongly influence the make-up of the microorganisms in its rumen. Some cattle produce significantly less methane due to their genetics, so it would be possible to select for those genetics to breed low-methane-producing cattle. The research was done on dairy cattle, but study authors say it should apply to beef cattle, as well. More research will have to be done on how this selection affects other production traits, but the research team has noted a correlation between efficiency of milk production...

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