Sustainable Agriculture News for the Week of May 9-13 2011 from The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition...NSAC Joins 160 Organizations to Urge Release of Report on Antitrust - Regulatory Enforcement Workshops: On Wednesday, May 11, NSAC joined 160 organizations on a letter urging USDA and the Department of Justice to complete and release a report on the findings from five workshops held in 2010 on antitrust issues and regulatory enforcement in farm and food sectors. Hundreds of farmers and ranchers attended the workshops held across the country. Many farmers and ranchers testified about their experiences with discriminatory, deceptive, and coercive practices by meatpackers and poultry processors. Numerous academic experts described the adverse impacts of these practices on the ability of farmers and ranchers to stay in business. Deadline to Apply for FY 2011 Organic Inititative Support Next Week: The deadline to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) Organic Initiative Program is coming up fast. USDA has allocated $50 million for the Organic Initiative Program in 2011, which is available for all three of the following: certified organic growers, those transitioning to organic farming systems, and farmers exempt from formal certification.* The Organic Initiative offers financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to implement new conservation practices, like cover cropping, pest management, crop rotation, stream buffers, hedgerow planting, and various other practices. Funds Available for Healthy Food Financing Initiative: Following on previous efforts to make information available to the public using visual interfaces, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released the Food Desert Locator this week. This new tool provides population characteristics of areas considered food deserts according the definition by the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) Working Group. The HFFI, a partnership between the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, and the Agriculture Department (USDA), with the collaboration of ERS staff, defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. SARE Grant Proposal Deadlines: A number of important deadlines for pre-proposals and proposals to USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program lie ahead this spring, summer, and fall. SARE, part of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, is a national competitive grants and education program operating in every state and island protectorate. The program is operated regionally - North Central, Northeast, South and West - each branch guided by a volunteer Administrative Council that makes grants and sets regional priorities.