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New Survey to Shed Light on How Farmers are Faring Under Produce Safety Rule

The FDA’s Produce Safety Rule, mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), is now taking effect for California farmers. A new survey, funded by the USDA, promises to give a clearer picture of what this means for the industry.
 
Farmers have voiced concerns over the costs and challenges of complying with the Rule since it was first announced. However, there is still too little hard evidence on the true distribution and severity of these challenges.

NOP Guidance on Biodiversity and Natural Resources Open for Comment

The National Organic Program (NOP) issued a draft guidance to clarify biodiversity and natural resources requirements. The Draft Guidance, “Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations,” is open for comment now through February 27, 2015.

NRCS Invites Proposals for 2019 Conservation Innovation Grant

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California is now accepting proposals for its Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. Up to $500,000 is available for one- to three-year grants. The maximum award amount for any project will not exceed $75,000 in fiscal year 2019. Proposals are due by June 10, 2019. 
 
CIG is a voluntary program to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production.

NRCS Prioritizes Organic in Conservation Innovation Grants Program

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering up to $2 million for one- to three-year projects that investigate innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Proposals are due February 26, 2018.
 
Organic Agriculture Systems is one of three Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) priorities for fiscal year 2018. NRCS specifically requests proposals that help organic producers implement and evaluate conservation practices. Proposals submitted under this priority area must address at least one of these specific issues:

NRCS, UC Davis Announce Release of SoilWeb 2.0 App Update

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the University of California, Davis Soil Resource Laboratory today announced the release of the iOS and Android SoilWeb app, version 2.0. The app now has a cleaner and more modern interface with GPS-location-based links to access detailed digital soil survey data (SSURGO) published by the NRCS for most of the United States.

OFRF Executive Director Testifies Before Congress

Invoking the challenges American farmers have faced from increased weather extremes, Brise Tencer, the Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), presented testimony last week to the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research during its hearing on Increasing Resiliency, Mitigating Risk: Examining the Research and Extension Needs of Producers.
 
Tencer, who previously served as policy director at CCOF, cited OFRF studies that characterize organic farmers’ research needs.

OFRF Releases New Report on Organic Farming and Climate Change

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) just released the eighth guidebook in their immensely popular Soil Health and Organic Farming Series. Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Carbon Sequestration examines research related to the capacity of sustainable organic systems and practices to sequester soil carbon and minimize nitrous oxide and methane emissions.

Organic Farmers Sought for Interviews About Birds on Strawberry Farms

Ph.D. student Alejandra Echeverri is working in California’s central coast to understand how strawberry growers and managers of strawberry farming operations perceive birds on the farm. 
 
Specifically, Echeverri hopes to conduct in-person surveys with strawberry growers or managers to understand which practices they are using to attract birds to or deter birds from their farms. She also is interested to find out whether they see some birds as beneficial or pests on their farms.
 

Organic Rice Pioneers Receive Leopold Conservation Award

Lundberg Family Farms has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 California Leopold Conservation Award.
 
Sand County Foundation, the nation’s leading voice for private conservation, created the Leopold Conservation Award to inspire American landowners by recognizing exceptional farmers, ranchers, and foresters. The prestigious award, named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is given in 14 states.
 
The award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, Sustainable Conservation, and California Farm Bureau Federation.

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