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Southern SAWG Newsletter  Volume 6, #3
  March 2010
Dear Friends,
 
Spring must finally be on the way! It's been a long, cold winter for most of us, and the time for warmer days to get outside and plants some seeds is most welcome.
 
This season also brings the opportunity to plant financial and technical support seeds. Read on to learn about a number of grants and project assistance programs, including the special Organic Initiative EQIP program. Along with these opportunities, you can also get a free comprehensive guide to federal programs for sustainable agriculture, forestry, entrepreneurship, conservation, and community development, which includes helpful tips on how to best access these programs.
 
We wish you a beautiful spring, and happy planting!
 
--Your friends at Southern SAWG
IN THIS ISSUE
Farmers Market Promotion Grant--Deadline for Proposals is April 15, 2010
USDA Announces Black Farmers' Settlement Agreement
Reminder: March 12 is the Deadline to Sign Up for the 2010 Organic Initiative
Two Funding Opportunities from the USDA Risk Management Agency
Three Funding Opportunities from Southern SARE
Free Guide to Grant, Loan, and Support Programs
Mississippi State High Tunnel Field Day - March 11, 2010
Southeastern Goat & Sheep Seminar - April 17, 2010
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Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant
Deadline for Proposals is April 15, 2010 
 
The USDA has announced the availability of $5 million for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). FMPP grants vary in size from $2,500 to $100,000 and do not require a match. 
 
FMPP is designed to increase direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities, and has funded more than 200 projects since 2006. This year's FMPP application emphasizes several priorities, including bringing new farmers into direct marketing venues and improving access to local food in under-served rural communities. 
 
As the National Sustainable Agriculture Campaign (NSAC) points out, these priorities are in line with the new USDA project, Know Your Farmer Know Your Food, which uses existing programs to strengthen regional food systems and knowledge between producers and consumers, as well as First Lady Obama's Let's Move initiative, designed to eliminate childhood obesity by increasing access to affordable, nutritious food and encouraging more exercise. NSAC also notes that both efforts reflect a new administration approach that links improving health with strengthening local food economies.
 
Competition for the funds may be intense. Applicants can take advantage of two new tools, the FMPP Pre-Application Guide for 2010 and an FMPP grant-writing PowerPoint presentation
 
April 15, 2010, is the deadline to submit a proposal. Click here for an application packet.
USDA Announces Black Farmers' Settlement Agreement 
 
For over ten years, a group of black farmers has not been able to have their claims of discrimination against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) settled. Finally, there is hope.
 
In 1999, a Federal District judge approved a settlement agreement resolving a class action discrimination suit, commonly known as the Pigford case, between the USDA and black farmers. According to the Pigford suit, the USDA had routinely discriminated against black farmers on the basis of race and failed to investigate or properly respond to complaints from 1983 to 1997.
Many farmers were omitted at that time based on a rigid formula used to determine payment. As a result, farmers who submitted filing requests after October, 1999, and before June, 2008 were included in a class known as Pigford II.
 
The Obama administration and attorneys representing black farmers recently reached a settlement in this second phase of the lawsuit, originally filed by black farmers against the USDA in 1999. "The long-awaited settlement in this second phase of the Pigford lawsuit is a major step forward," said Ralph Paige, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund.
 
The Pigford II Settlement Agreement provides a non-judicial claims process for individuals to demonstrate their right to damages and debt relief, and a structure for distributing a total of $1.25 billion dollars to redress the claims of late-filing black farmers who were discriminated against by the USDA. The settlement also provides a moratorium on foreclosures of most claimants' farms until after they have gone through the claims process or the Secretary of Agriculture is notified that a claim has been denied.
 
"The $1.25 billion settlement proposed by the Obama administration is a vast improvement over the $100 million offered by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill," said Paige. "Now there is hope that the thousands of black farmers whose cases have been pending can receive awards and damages after decades of discrimination." 
 
There is still much to be done in the case before the farmers can be offered relief. Congress needs to appropriate the money, and the settlement must receive court approval.
 
For more information on the Pigford case,
click here.
Reminder: March 12 is the Deadline to Sign Up for the 2010 Organic Initiative 
 
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is again offering financial support and technical assistance to organic farmers and farmers transitioning to organic production systems. NRCS has committed $50 million nationally for the 2010 Organic Initiative, available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). 
 
Farmers will be paid 75 percent of the cost of implementing the organic practice, including income that may be forgone. The payment rate is set at 90 percent for beginning farmers, limited resource farmers, and applicants of historically underserved communities. 
 
Click here for more information.
Two Funding Opportunities from the USDA Risk Management Agency
Outreach and Assistance Partnership Program, and Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program

 
Community Outreach and Assistance Partnership Program
Deadline is April 15, 2010
 
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) announces the availability of approximately $2.5 million (subject to availability of funds) for collaborative outreach and assistance programs for limited
resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers. Awards under this program will be made on a competitive basis for projects of up to one year.
 
For more information and application instructions, click here
 
Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program
Deadline is April 27, 2010
 
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced the availability of approximately $1.1 million (subject to availability of funds) for Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk
Management Education Sessions (the Commodity Partnerships Small Sessions Program). The purpose of the program is to deliver training and information in management of production, marketing, and financial risk to U.S. agricultural producers. The maximum award will be $10,000.
 
For more information and application instructions, click here.
Three Funding Opportunities from Southern SARE:
Research and Education, Professional Development Program, and Graduate Student 
 
2011 Research and Education Grant Request for Pre-Proposals
Deadline is June 1, 2010
 
The Southern Region USDA Program on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is requesting pre-proposals for systems research and education activities that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the region and nation.
 
To encourage systems research in sustainable agriculture, Southern SARE now has three categories for proposals:
  • Projects that concentrate on production research
  • Projects that concentrate on postharvest/food system research
  • Projects that encompass both production and postharvest/food system research
For more information and application instructions, click here.  
 
2011 Professional Development Program Call for Pre-Proposals
Deadline is June 1, 2010
 
The Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program is requesting pre-proposals for projects that provide training on sustainable agriculture for agricultural professionals and educators who serve farmers and other interested people in USDA's southern region. While there is no funding cap for projects, in order to fund a broad portfolio of projects, priority will be given to those in the range of $50,000 to $100,000.
 
SARE is an inclusive program and encourages pre-proposals from land grant and non-land grant universities, colleges, USDA agencies, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations. 
 
For more information and submission instructions, click here. 
 
2010 Graduate Student Grant in Sustainable Agriculture Request for Proposals
Deadline is June 1, 2010
 
The Southern Region USDA Program on Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is requesting proposals for graduate student research projects that address issues of sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the Southern Region and the nation. The program grants a one-time maximum of $10,000 for projects that may last up to three years. The Southern SARE program will only consider proposals submitted, and to be conducted, by graduate students enrolled at an accredited college or university in the Southern Region. 
 
For more information and submission instructions, click here.
 
The SARE Southern Region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Free Guide to Grant, Loan, and Support Programs Now Available
 
Building Sustainable Farms cover photoFor those looking for a way through the territory of federal support programs, there is finally a guidebook! Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities provides extensive information on federal programs that offer financial and technical support for sustainable agriculture.
 
Written for anyone working with innovative enterprises in agriculture and forestry in the United States, the guide features program resources in community development, sustainable land management, and value-added and diversified agriculture and forestry. 
 
To download Building Sustainable Farmers, Ranches and Communities for free, click here 
Mississippi State High Tunnel Field Day
March 11, 2010
Crystal Springs, Mississippi
 
Mississippi State University, in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the Mississippi Fruits and Vegetable Growers' Association, is offering a high tunnel field day on the basics of producing fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers in high tunnels.
 
Featured speakers will include Dr. Curt Rom of the University of Arkansas, Dr. Carl Motsenbocker of Louisiana State University, and Dave Dowling of Farmhouse Flowers and Plants in Maryland. An NRCS representative will discuss the high tunnel cost share program, and participants will tour high tunnels currently being used to grow a variety of crops.
 
Click here for more information.
Southeastern Goat and Sheep Seminar
April 17, 2010
Clemson/Pendleton, South Carolina
 
Small ruminant producers are invited to come and learn better animal husbandry from the best in the industry. This will be a day long event with nine workshops to choose from, covering topics such as goat ethics, basic herd health, parasite information, fiber animal production, kidding issues, AI, reproduction, embryo transfers, farm performance, and herd management, as well as offering vendors, food, camaraderie, and fun.  
 
Sponsored by the Southern Goat Producers Association, Foothills Goat and Sheep Producers,
the South Carolina Dairy Goat Association, Inc., and the Upstate Goat Association of South Carolina, Inc.
 
Click here for more information; click here to register.  

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Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Inc. (Southern SAWG) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1991 to promote sustainable agriculture in the Southern United States.