May 2016

Organic Agriculture May 25, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

In this issue:

 Webinars in late May and early June

We're taking a break from our own webinar series, but you may be interested in attending some of these organic farming webinars presented by other organizations within the next month! Please consult the links below for additonal information and instructions on how to register or join.

May 26, 2016: Introducing the NRCS National Organic Handbook Webinar
Presenters Lindsey Hains and Ben Bowell will discuss the handbook, and include a description of organic farming principles and relevant USDA organic regulations. The presentation will describe considerations and resources for planning conservation practices on organic operations such as cover crops, nutrient management, crop rotations, and livestock management. This webinar is organized by NRCS and Oregon Tilth. Find more information here

June 1, 2016: Organic Integrity Database Webinar
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service  is delivering a webinar on June 1 about their Organic Integrity Database. In the webinar, the presenters will discuss the development of the database and feature demos of search and reporting capabilities. They will also review tips on using data from the system and capabilities scheduled for release this year. Find more information here.

June 2, 2016: Organic Recordkeeping for Growers Webinar
This event is a co-production of the Farmer Veteran Coalition and CCOF with support from the USDA Risk Management Agency’s Risk Management Education Program. Presenters Thea Rittenhouse and Aaron Magill will discuss processes to make on-farm organic recordkeeping easier, as well as a framework to assist you in developing a recordkeeping system for your operation that maintains the records needed for organic certification. This webinar is ideal for growers looking to improve their recordkeeping infrastructure, growers new to organic certification, or growers interested becoming certified organic. Find out more here. The registration link is at the bottom of that page!

June 7, 2016: Organic Weed Management Webinar
This webinar will discuss the primary weed control strategies for organic systems: the role of prevention, cultural and mechanical control, crop rotation, crop competition, and cultivation. Experts from Penn State will also introduce the Organic Crop Production guide that includes weed management as well as many other organic topics and case studies of successful organic crop farmers. Organized by the NRCS and Oregon Tilth, this webinar will be presented by Bill Curran and Dave Mortensen of Penn State University. CEUs are available. Find more information here

June 16, 2016: Organic Produce Labeling Webinar
CCOF and the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) are presenting a webinar on labeling your organic produce with twist ties, clamshells and more! Attend this webinar to learn about different organic labeling techniques for growers. This online training will provide a step-by-step process for developing labels that comply with the USDA National Organic Program standards for produce packaging. They will also explore labeling requirements for wholesale organic agricultural products and organic direct-to-consumer sales. Presenters are Krista Wanser, Patti Bursten-Deutsch and Matt Smiley. Find out more here. The registration link is at the bottom of that page!

Organic Certification Cost Share Funds Available

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Organic Certification Cost Share Programs Fiscal Year 2016 Request for Applications (pdf) is now available. Two organic certification cost share programs are offered in 2016, which assist certified organic operations in defraying the costs associated with organic certification. Organic operations may receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs paid during October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016; not to exceed $750 per certification scope. Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 5, 2016, through grants.gov. Find out more information about this program at https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/occsp

Risk Management Education Funding Available

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced $8.7 million in cooperative agreements for risk management education and training programs. The funding would give universities, county cooperative extension offices, nonprofit organizations, and other partners needed resources to develop training and education tools to help farmers and ranchers, especially those traditionally underserved or with limited resources, learn how to effectively managing long-term risks and challenges. Find out more information about the grant here, and you can also find out how to attend the next webinar about the grant here, which takes place on June 3rd.

New Know Your Farmer Website

For additional USDA funding opportunities and marketing information related to local food initiatives such as farmers markets, farm to school programs, and urban agriculture, you may want to check out the redesigned Know Your Farmer Know Your Food website, which was rolled out in late April. Find the home page here, and find funding opportunities and toolkits for starting local food initiatives here.

New Cucumber, Melon and Summer Squash Trial Reports from ESOCuc

The Eastern Sustainable Organic Cucurbit project just shared the results of their cucumber, melon and summer squash trial reports from 2014 and 2015 on the Organic Variety Trial Database. Trials were conducted on research farms at Cornell University (NY), Auburn University (AL), Clemson University (SC) and North Carolina State University (NC) as well as on commercial farms in New York, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Members of this research project, funded by NIFA OREI, are seeking solutions for some of the many production challenges organic growers face in growing these crops, and they are also breeding downy mildew resistant varieties! Find out more about their project  and new varieties on their website at http://eorganic.info/cucurbits.

If you conduct organic seed trials and would like to share your reports in the Organic Variety Trial Database, you can upload them here.

Sustainable Agriculture Education Conference

If you are involved in agricultural education for adults, registration is still open for the 7th national conference on sustainable agriculture education, organized by the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, which takes place at the University of California Santa Cruz, CA on July 29-31, 2016. This conference invites participants from across the agriculture and food system who are engaged in adult education: students, teachers, farmers, cooks, community organizers, from a wide range of educational, professional and nonprofit organizations.  Find out more information and read the preliminary schedule at http://sustainableaged.org/conferences/2016-santa-cruz-ca/ 

Farmer Surveys

If you are a farmer, your opinion and experience is in great demand, and organizers of the following surveys are requesting your input!

NSAC Use of manure survey (until June 3rd)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and its members are surveying produce farmers to better understand how they use and apply untreated or raw manure on their farms. Between now and June 3, 2016, they are collecting anonymous information to develop comments for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to aid in their development of a risk assessment model. This model will be used to pursue an appropriate standard for the application of raw manure as part of the Produce Safety Rule. Find out more here.

Survey of needs of small-scale and urban livestock and poultry farms in the western US
Cooperative Extension specialists are trying to identify the needs of small-scale farms and urban animal agriculture in the western United States.  Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, requests your help in reaching livestock and poultry owners to complete a survey. “This survey aims to identify the needs of livestock and poultry owners related to animal health, animal husbandry and food safety; and the role that veterinarians play on small farms,” Pires said. “This study will serve as a benchmark for designing effective educational programs to train farmers, backyard producers and veterinarians working within this sector.” Find out more and access the survey here.

eOrganic Mission

eOrganic is a web community where organic agriculture farmers, researchers, and educators network; exchange objective, research- and experience-based information; learn together; and communicate regionally, nationally, and internationally. If you have expertise in organic agriculture and would like to develop U.S. certified organic agriculture information, join us at http://eorganic.info.

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This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.