Publication: W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has awarded grants for 26 new projects that support a wide range of activities from custom grazing and grass-based dairies to the financial and technical challenges faced by farmers interested in accessing niche food markets.
The Center is funding three dairy projects that will provide technical assistance for new and beginning grass-based or organic dairy farmers throughout the state. In southern and southwest Iowa, the Leopold Center is funding work through a collaboration including the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives, Clarinda Economic Development, ISU Extension and the GROW Iowa Foundation. The Iowa Valley RC&D will coordinate dairy work in southeastern Iowa, and ISU Extension dairy field specialists will work with dairy farmers in northeast Iowa.
The 2007 grants also include 16 new projects in the Center’s Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, which is led by Rich Pirog. Three of the new projects will develop business models for food distribution and processing, while another project will research and test a web-based food-purchasing template for use by farmer networks.
Other Marketing and Food Systems Initiative projects include development of an on-line Iowa Grassland Products Calculator, cash flow and profitability analysis for small meat processors, and a feasibility study for an organic education program in northwest Iowa.
Seven new grants are part of the Center’s Ecology Initiative, including two research projects on changing land use and custom grazing. One project will investigate effective ways to contact out-of-state landowners to explore land use options for their property. Researchers believe that many non-resident landowners buy rural property in Iowa for hunting and other recreational purposes.
In a second project, Practical Farmers of Iowa in conjunction with ISU Extension will review custom grazing contracts and host a series of workshops and field days to discuss successful models for custom grazing in Iowa. They also will develop an Iowa Custom Graziers Directory with additional information for farmers.
Other Ecology Initiative projects include a white paper on protecting land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, research on the potential for perennials to remove nitrate from groundwater in streamside buffers, development of winter triticale cultivars for forage and biomass production, and low-external-input cropping systems.
Click here for more information about the Leopold Center.