TAKE ACTION HELP SHAPE THE VALUE-ADDED PRODUCER GRANT PROGRAM: Comment Deadline June 28, 2010 Family farm advocates have an important opportunity to help shape the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG). USDA has requested comments on the administrative rules that will govern the implementation of this important program. VAPG offers competitive grants to farmers and ranchers developing new farm and food-related business enterprises that boost farm income, create jobs, and increase rural economic opportunity. USDA NEWS NSAC Applauds USDA Proposal for a Fairer Deal for Farmers and Ranchers in Livestock and Poultry Markets: On Thursday, June 18, NSAC issued a press release applauding a proposed regulation, issued by USDA's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), to increase protections for farmers and ranchers in their dealings with packers and processors. USDA Issues Assessment of Conservation Practices in Upper Mississippi River: On Wednesday, June 16, USDA announced the release of the reportAssessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. Nearly one-half the acres in the Basin are planted to corn or soybeans, so the Report focuses on the effects of nutrients and sediment from agricultural land on water quality in the Basin. First FSIS Public Hearing On Controversial Guidance On June 14, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) held the first of three public meetings to discuss and receive comments on their controversial HACCP Systems Validation Guidance document aimed at small and very-small meat and poultry facilities. View the FSIS Press release here. DULY NOTED NSAC Issues New Fact Sheet on the Conservation Stewardship Program: NSAC has issued a new five page fact sheet on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The fact sheet reflects changes to the program made under the final rule issued on June 3, 2010 by USDA as well as other administrative changes affecting the current sign up now under way. Farmers and ranchers wanting to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program have until June 25th to file a simple application form with their local NRCS office.