NE Iowa Benefits from Leopold Center competitive grantsPosted: April 28, 2012
Twenty-one new projects are beginning work this year, thanks to the Leopold Center's long-running competitive grants program. The Center awarded the competitive grants, which total $1,201,290, in January.
Six projects will complete their work in one year, while eight projects will run two years and seven projects will run three years. Combined with multiyear projects already in progress, the new grants bring the Leopold Center's currently funded research to roughly $2.25 million.
The projects fit under all four of the Leopold Center's initiatives—Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy and Cross-Cutting—and range from research on cover crops and bacterial resistance, to developing tools for local foods, to helping Iowa farmers understand and reduce their energy use.
"This year's Leopold Center grants represent a broad array of science-based projects that will serve Iowa on many levels," said Mark Honeyman, Leopold Center interim director. "The projects involve many fundamental topics: soil, water, crops, livestock, energy, food, farmers and land. Collectively, these projects will continue to build the sustainability of Iowa's agriculture and food systems."
Marketing and Food System Projects
Eight new projects in the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative were awarded a total of $258,104. The Regional Food Systems Working Group, formed in 2003, will use competitive grant funding to continue convening. Representatives from more than 25 groups meet quarterly to coordinate efforts to build vibrant regional food systems across Iowa.
Other marketing projects will create training programs, develop tools to procure local foods for farm-to-school chapters, and help small farmers and meat processors improve their management and profitability.
Three projects will directly impact the food system work in northeast Iowa.
Convening the Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG)
This 2-year grant for $42,700 was awarded in 2012. This competitive grant supports the continued convening of the RFSWG, including support for quarterly meetings and the development of new leadership to guide and facilitate the group. RFSWG will continue its work to engage food and agriculture producers, businesses and state and federal organizations to network, share information and tools and collectively address challenges. Co-PIs include Teresa Wiemerslage and Brenda Ranum.
Improving profitability for small and very small meat processors in Iowa
This 2-year grant for $22,788 was awarded in 2012. This competitive grant supports the development of a productivity curriculum for small meat processors in Iowa, as well as quarterly one-day classes and one-on-one follow up services. The curriculum will focus on scheduling, product mix decisions, retail inventory management, and shop floor performance measurement. The project builds on previous work of the Leopold Center's Small Meat Processors Working Group. PI is Nick McCann.
Transitioning farmers to produce for wholesale markets
This 2-year grant for $36,850 was awarded in 2012. This project will help GROWN Locally meet increased demands for products. The principal investigator will work with producers in northeast Iowa on Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) assessments and safety plans, coordinate the creation of marketing materials, seek out new producers and help existing producers expand, coordinate a peer mentor program, and set up a training workshop for good handling practices and post-harvest handling procedures. PI is Johnice Cross.