Conventional vs. Organic: An Ag Secretary Race to Watch (The Atlantic)
In Iowa, the race for Secretary of Agriculture has started attracting national attention. Two starkly different candidates are in a dead heat for the traditionally low-profile post, and the winner will be a bellwether of our national attitudes towards food and agricultural policy.
The article looks at three crucial (and divisive) issues facing United States agriculture; in each case, the candidates have sharply divergent platforms.
Every Montreal campus you stroll through these days, from the concrete spaces of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) to the green expanses of Concordia’s Loyola campus, boasts a productive vegetable patch. Student union bulletin boards yield notices for campus soup kitchens, worm-composting kits, canning workshops and calls for garden volunteers. Talk with some of the student organizers, and their drive and enthusiasm proves infectious.
NIFA Announces Organic Research and Extension Grants (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Blog)
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced 30 grants totaling over $22 million to enhance the ability of organic producers and processors grow and market high quality organic agricultural products.
In announcing the awards, NIFA Director Roger Beachy noted “More and more farmers are adopting organic agriculture practices to produce qualify food and boost farm income. These research and extension projects will equip producers with the tools and resources they need to operate profitable and sustainable organic farms.”
$18 million in grants were awarded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Projects ranged from researching and educating organic farmers about winter cover-cropping systems to developing an organic dietary supplement to control gut pathogens in sheep and goats.
An additional $4 million in grants were awarded through the Organic Transitions Program (ORG), which supports the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In FY 2010, this program focused on environmental services provided by organic farming systems that support soil conservation and contribute to climate change mitigation; for example, University of Illinois received a grant to quantify the carbon sequestration potential of Midwestern organic grain production systems.