Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

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Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying

Tailored flower strips allow pest-eating insects to reach throughout crop fields

Long strips of bright wildflowers are being planted through crop fields to boost the natural predators of pests and potentially cut pesticide spraying.

The strips were planted on 15 large arable farms in central and eastern England last autumn and will be monitored for five years, as part of a trial run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

Concern over the environmental damage caused by pesticides has grown rapidly in recent years. Using wildflower margins to support insects including hoverflies, parasitic wasps and ground beetles has been shown to slash pest numbers in crops and even increase yields.

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Source:  Damian Carrington, The Guardian, January 31, 2018



Image result for alternative manure management

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $9.64 million in grant funding to 17 alternative manure management projects across the state. These projects, part of the Alternative Manure Management Program, or AMMP, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on California dairy farms and livestock operations by using manure management practices that are alternatives to dairy digesters (i.e. non-digester projects).

When livestock manure decomposes in wet conditions, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Changing manure management practices so that manure is handled in a dry form can help significantly reduce methane emissions. These reductions contribute to the state’s overall short-lived climate pollutant strategy under Senate Bill 1383, which aims to reduce California’s methane emissions to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

“California dairy farmers are leading the way in proactively addressing greenhouse gas emissions” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “I am excited to see both the diversity of farms and the variety of non-digester manure management practices being adopted through these projects that will help meet the state’s climate goals.”

More of the press release here.

AMMP program info here.

Racial Equity in the Farm Bill: Recommendations and Opportunities

Editor’s Note: This blog post is the third and final post in a three-part blog series by NSAC Policy Intern Noah McDonald, which examines how the Farm Bill can take steps to advance racial equity within the food system. The first post discussed the historical context and foundations for racial inequities with the food system. The second post spoke to some of the present-day issues that farmers of color and farm/food advocates face, as well as the policies that USDA has put into place to amend its wrongdoing. This post will propose some solutions and examine what institutional changes are needed to achieve greater racial equity in the 2018 Farm Bill and beyond.

With the 2018 Farm Bill on the horizon, there is no better or more urgent time than now to be discussing the role of racial equity in agriculture, and working together to find solutions. The farm bill is a rare beast – it only comes around every four years (notwithstanding delays), and includes multiple titles of legislation that will allocate billions of dollars of funding and services across the food and farm system. The gravity of this bill makes it the perfect vehicle through which to address systemic racial inequities in our agricultural system through thoughtful and impactful public policy.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, January 31, 2018.

How Dirt Could Save Humanity From an Infectious Apocalypse

Brady is creating drugs from dirt. He’s certain that the world’s topsoils contain incredible, practically inexhaustible reservoirs of undiscovered antibiotics, the chemical weapons bacteria use to fend off other microorganisms. He’s not alone in this thinking, but the problem is that the vast majority of bacteria cannot be grown in the lab—a necessary step in cultivating antibiotics.

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Source:  Peter Andrey Smith, Wired, January 14, 2018

Welcome Back Congress: New Year, Long To-Do List

Image result for farm bill 2018 congress

Less than two weeks into the new year, and Congress already has an incredibly full plate. Both the House and Senate return to work this week (the Senate has officially been back since last week), and will need to immediately dig in their massive to-do lists, not least of which include finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations legislation, preparing for the FY 2019 budget, and tackling the soon-to-expire 2014 Farm Bill.

Below we breakdown what’s on Congress’s immediate 2018 to-do list, and identify what’s a stake and dependent on congressional action in the year ahead.

Appropriations, Spending Caps, and the Debt Ceiling

The end of FY 2017 was officially on September 30, 2017. For the last several months, Congress has been unable to agree on new spending levels for FY 2018, and so has been forced to pass a series of Continuing Resolutions (CR) (the most recent of which came in at the end of the 2017) in order to keep the government and essential programs running. All the CRs do, however, is prolong FY 2017 spending levels. Congress therefore has a whole lot to do in the weeks ahead to if they hope to finally set new spending levels for FY 2018.

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Source:  National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, January 9, 2018.