From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). This Wednesday's hearing in the House Agriculture Committee marked the two year countdown to the next Farm Bill. On the House side, the next step will be field hearings scheduled over the next few months, a hiatus during election season, then formal hearings in May 2011. It's not too early to start thinking about how you can help advocate for a better Farm Bill in 2012. If you're a farmer, consider checking out our new Farmer and Rancher Resources for the Media (FARM) Toolkit where you can find tools to tell your farm story, or sign up for the FARM database where we can connect you with media inquiries relevant to your operation. Your voice is important in shaping policy. USDA News 4/23/10 - Conservation Stewardship Program Update This post provides some basic updates on the status of the nearly completed 2009 sign-up as well as the upcoming 2010 version of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). 4/23/10 - Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative Applications Open USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is taking applications for the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) until May 27, 2010. The full Request for Proposals can be found here. 4/23/10 - Call for Nominations to Minority Farmer Advisory Committee Yesterday's Federal Register announced the call for nominations to the Minority Farmer Advisory Committee, organized by the Office of Advocacy and Outreach at the USDA. 4/20/10 - Proposed Rule Defines Geographic Preference Option for Child Nutrition In an important step forward for local purchasing by federal nutrition programs, the USDA today released a proposed rule on a geographic preference option that would allow institutions who receive federal Child Nutrition funds to give extra points to unprocessed locally grown or raised products in the procurement process. 4/20/10 - Research Grants Drilldown: Organic Research within AFRI Adapted from the SCOAR (Scientific Congress on Organic Agricultural Research) Bulletin. Read the original Bulletin here. The word "organic" appears only twice within the hundreds of pages of the AFRI RFA; however, opportunities may exist for organic researchers to compete for these funds. Several program areas offer multi-million dollar funding for projects of up to five years. Congressional News 4/23/10 - And We're Off: Farm Bill 2012 Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) described Wednesday's House Agriculture Committee Hearing on the Farm Bill as "two-and-a-half hours to kick off two-and-a-half years." The hearing was the first of Committee Chairman Collin Peterson's (D-MN) meetings to get a head start on planning for the next Farm Bill, scheduled for completion in 2012. Other News and Resources 4/23/10 - Choices Magazine Unpacks Local Food The latest issue of Choices Magazine, a publication of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, features seven articles centered around perspectives, prospects, and policy involved with local food systems. 4/21/10 - NSAC Announces Farm and Agriculture Resources for the Media (FARM) We're excited to announce the launch of FARM (Farm & Agriculture Resources for Media), a NSAC project that champions the voice of sustainable agriculture by providing media training and tools for farmers. FARM includes a new three-part NSAC toolkit that helps farmers share their personal and authentic story and strengthen their media connections. 4/20/10 - Anti-CAFO Activist Wins Goldman Environmental Prize NSAC offers heartfelt congratulations to Lynn Henning, a southern Michigan farmer who has been awarded the 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize for U.S. grassroots environmental activism. The Prize is recognition of Lynn's unstinting work in exposing the impacts of pollution from large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), especially mega-dairies, in her southern Michigan community and across the upper Midwest.