*Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool*

The Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool is designed to estimate impact of water
withdrawal on nearby streams and rivers. The use of this tool is required of
anyone proposing to make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal (over
70 gal per min) from the waters of the state. You must use this tool to
determine if your extraction will cause an Adverse Resource Impact, and
register the withdrawal. The Water withdrawal Assessment Tool can be found
at **.*

*Attention local producers interested in growing vegetables and fruits for
the Greater Lansing FoodBank.*

This past year the Greater Lansing Food Bank has began a voucher program
that provides $5.00 redemption value for fresh produce at some local grocers
and farmers markets. The cost of that program is high, but the impact is
great. They want to explore reducing the cost of buying retail while
supporting our local economy and thus our solicitation of potential interest
with producers in our region.

This approach is new and more understanding is needed to know, what will
work best for the farmers while still meeting the needs of those we serve.
The GLFB intends to hold a meeting with interested farmers in the tri-county
region to discuss the opportunities before releasing a request for
proposals. If you have some interest in this idea, please contact Terry Link
(1-517-887-4307) or *[log in to unmask]* at your earliest convenience so we can
invite you to the meeting to be scheduled in the next couple of weeks.

 *The U.S.D.A is offering two programs for growers through its Environmental
Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).*

1.                  *Fund Available for Organic Transition and Practices*.
 The USDA also has financial support and technical assistance for organic
farmers and farmers transitioning to organic production systems. Deadline is
March 12, 2010.  *There is $ 1,041,000 allocated to this program for organic
farmers and transitioning farmers in Michigan. *To apply for these funds
specifically marked for organic or transitioning organic (2 separate
allocations) visit your Soil Conservation Field Office and register for EQIP
funds. When completing the application you check that you are an organic
farmer or transitioning organic farmer and your application will be
evaluated based on organic practices.   For a directory of Soil Conservation
Offices in MI go to

2.                  *Financial Assistance for High Tunnels*. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering financial assistance to
landowners constructing high tunnels, also known as hoophouses, to increase
the availability of locally grown produce. The application deadline is Feb.
19. Read on for details…
USDA Offering Financial Assistance for High Tunnels

EAST LANSING, Jan. 22, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has
financial assistance available to landowners interested in constructing high
tunnels to increase the availability of locally grown produce.

The assistance is available through a pilot program that utilizes financial
assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by
the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. High tunnels are made of
ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting and
are easy to build, maintain and move. High tunnels provide a protected
environment for vegetables or other crops and are mainly used to increase
temperature in early spring and fall for extended crop production.

NRCS-Michigan is participating in the 3-year pilot program that will verify
if high tunnels are effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital
nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season, increasing yields, and
providing other benefits to growers. The program will provide financial
assistance for the construction of one high tunnel per farm. The high tunnel
must be constructed from a pre-manufactured kit and have an interior height
of at least 6-feet.

Financial assistance from the pilot program will cover 75 percent of the
estimated cost of constructing a high tunnel of up to 2,178-square-feet. The
amount of financial assistance is determined on a square-foot basis with a
limit of $4,166. Historically-underserved producers and beginning farmers
can receive 90 percent of the estimated cost for a maximum of $4,944.

Applications must be submitted to a local NRCS field office. Additional
information and a listing of Michigan NRCS field offices can be found at Information about USDA conservation programs is also
available from local conservation districts.

*U.S.D.A. Plans to Drop Program to Trace Livestock*

The National Animal Identification System is being scraped. The program will
start over but will be left to the states to devise many aspects of a new
system, including requirements for identifying livestock. It could take two
years or more to create new federal rules.

The system was created by the Bush administration in 2004 after the
discovery of a cow infected with mad cow disease. Participation in the
identification system was voluntary, but the goal was to give every animal,
a unique identification number that would be entered into a database. The
animals would then be tracked, and if there was a disease outbreak,
officials could quickly locate other animals that had been exposed. Some
farmers and ranchers objected to the cost of the identification equipment,
and thought the system was intrusive and that the federal government would
use it to pry into their lives and finances. The old system received $142
million in federal financing, but gained the participation of only 40
percent of the nation’s livestock producers, according to a report by the
Congressional Research Service.

To read full article visit: **

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