Sustainable agriculture news for the third week of December, 2011

Sustainable agriculture news for the third week of December, 2011 from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: CONGRESSIONAL NEWS Healthy Food Financing Initiative FY 2012 Appropriations Funding: As we reported in an earlier blog post, in mid-December Congress passed a “megabus” appropriations bill that included FY 2012 appropriations funding for numerous departments including Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Included in this package is $32 million in funding for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  HFFI aims to fund food retail outlets in food deserts, which are low-income communities lacking access to healthy foods.  Read more… USDA NEWS USDA Wraps Up FY2011 Rural Energy for America Program Grants and Loans: USDA has announced the final FY2011 loan and grant awards for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  The program funds renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses. REAP grants can fund up to 25-percent of a project’s costs, up to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.  Read more... NRCS Updates Nutrient Management Standard: Last week, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released an updated version of its nutrient management standard, also known as conservation practice standard 590 (CPS 590).  NRCS practice standards delineate the steps that a producer may or must take in order to receive payments for a particular conservation practice under NRCS conservation programs.  Read more... EPA NEWS EPA Extends Comment Period for Proposed CAFO Reporting Rule: On Monday, December 19, the EPA announced that it is extending the comment period on a proposed rule with requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to report specific information about the their operations to the agency.  Comments are now due January 19, 2012.  EPA has issued a fact sheet with information on submitting comments.  Read more... OTHER NEWS Generations Bookend Rural Great Plains and Midwest: A new Center for Rural Affairs report released finds that rural areas in the Great Plains and Midwest continue to lose population and are caught between “bookend generations” – the youngest and the oldest – with a demographic valley in between.  Read more...

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