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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Posts By Andrew Burger

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Launches Local Food Center, Research Initiatives

January 9, 2012 |

The sustainable agriculture credo – that locally grown food can be raised in environmentally beneficial ways that strengthen local farms and economies and improve individual and public health – will be put to the test at The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s (ASAP) Local Food Center.

ASAP’s Local Food Center will be built in Asheville, North Carolina with initial support from donors, the Southern branch of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Sustainable Research and Education (SARE) program and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, Asheville’s Mountain Xpress reported recently.

The Local Food Center will enable ASAP to continue to expand its efforts to foster and promote local sustainable agriculture. Read More

Sustainable Agriculture Land Use Methodology Aims to Open Door to Carbon Markets for World’s Small Farmers

January 9, 2012 |

Agriculture scientists, field researchers, farmers and ranchers are searching for ways to address several critical and interrelated issues related to the sustainability of agriculture these days: growing demand for food by a growing world population; growing demand for water, energy and other natural resources; and challenges associated with a changing climate. A new World Bank methodology for estimating and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions on farms and ranches where sustainable agricultural practices are being employed holds out the promise of addressing all three. Read More

Rejiggered U of Wisconsin Sustainable Ag Institute Launches Sustainable Agriculture Projects Across State

January 4, 2012 |

Over the past couple of years, scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s College of Agricultural & Life Sciences (CALS) have broken out of their specialized disciplinary “silos” to focus on initiatives aimed at revitalizing the university’s Wisconsin Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (WISA).

This break from routine and change in strategy was prompted by a review of the institute initiated by Molly Jahn, Former Dean of CALS, in 2009. The review included 10 listening sessions with broad-based participation from stakeholders both within and outside the university. Several commonly held themes were identified, including the need for faculty members to “get out of their ‘disciplinary silos’ and take a more holistic, systems approach to issues.” Read More

USDA Economic Research Service Report Reveals Land Use Patterns and Changes across the Nation

January 2, 2012 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleA survey of all public and private land use across all 50 states, the US Dept. of Agriculture Economic Research Service’s latest “Major Uses of Land in the United States, 2007” report is the most comprehensive source of land use and land use change available.

Conducted every five years coincidentally with the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, the report is the only nationwide inventory of land use in the US. As stated in the report summary, “Land use and land-use changes involve important economic and environmental implications for commodity production and trade, open space, soil and water conservation, and other policy issues.” The 2007 report includes statistics on major land use and discusses them in light of national and regional trends and previous estimates.  Read More

USDA, FamilyFarmed Introduce Free Online Tool to Help Farmers Ensure Safety of Fruits & Veggies

January 2, 2012 |

Farmers can now access a free, first-of-its-kind online application that can help assure that their practices are in compliance with the US Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) food safety standards and procedures.  Developed by non-profit FamilyFarmed.org with funding from the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and input from a broad base of farm and produce industry partners, the online application is meant to be used as a tool to help farmers and packers ensure that they’re producing and storing fruits and vegetables in the safest possible manner, according to a USDA news release.

Licensed auditing professionals working for the USDA’s Fresh Products Branch regularly conduct food safety audits on suppliers across the produce supply chain to verify that best agricultural practices are being used and satisfy the purchasing requirements of retailers and the food service industry. Read More