Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Assistance for Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers

The Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Request for Applications has been released. Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants ProgramThe Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Competitive Grants Program (OASDFR) provides funds to organizations to conduct outreach and technical assistance to encourage and assist socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches and to participate in agricultural programs.

The OASDFR will support a wide range of outreach and assistance activities in farm management, financial management, marketing, application and bidding procedures, and other areas. The primary purpose of the OASDFR is to deliver outreach and technical assistance, to assure opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers to successfully acquire, own, operate, and retain farms and ranches; and assure equitable participation in the full range of USDA programs. More informaton: OASDFR

Who Is Eligible to Apply * 1862 Land-Grant Institutions * 1890 Land-Grant Institutions * 1994 Land-Grant Institutions * Hispanic-Serving Institutions * Native American Tribal Govts (Federally Recognized) * Native American Tribal Orgs, not Federally recognized Tribal Governments * Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed * Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed * Other or Additional Information (See below) * State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed.

More Information on Eligibility Postsecondary educational institutions and community-based organizations, networks, or coalitions of community-based organizations that meet certain criteria. Organizations that received funding under this section before Jan. 1, 1996 are also eligible. IMPORTANT! See RFA for specific eligibility requirements.

Contact Information: Dionne Toombs, Ph.D. National Program Leader Community Food and Nutrition Competitive Programs, CSREES, USDA Regular Mail (allow a minimum of 2 weeks for delivery):Mail Stop 22411400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-2241

Express Mail (for time sensitive information, use overnight delivery service):Waterfront Centre, Room 2416800 9th St., SW Washington, DC 20024 Telephone: 202-401-2138Fax: 202-401-6488 Email

CSREES' mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well being, and communities.

Also: Geraldine Herring Special Outreach Program Manager USDA Office of Outreach Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

Friday, September 12, 2008

In Memoriam: Robert J. Knox

A Legend and Giant at EPA

Robert J. Knox was a founding Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Justice(OEJ). Mr. Knox was an engineer by training and he began his career in Region 4 as a manpower development specialist working on water related issues. He moved to Region 2 where he led manpower and training programs.

In the early 1980s he served as the Director of the Office of Civil Rights. Thereafter, he was the Hazardous Waste Ombudsman for OSWER. When the Office of Environmental Justice was formed in 1992, he served as the founding Deputy Office Director with Dr. Clarice Gaylord, then OEJ Director. Bob spent his last 12 years in EPA working on community engagement activities. Bob retired from EPA in December 2004. In his retirement, he began taking coursework toward a masters degree from Howard University's School of Divinity. He was also a former deacon at the Gethsemane Baptist Church.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) will meet in October.

Purpose: Discussions about differential impacts of climate change, environmental justice best practices, goods movement impacts on air quality, and other topics.

o Date: Tuesday, October 21 through Thursday, 23, 2008.

o Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day unless noted otherwise

o Public comment session:

+ Wednesday, October 22, 2008 from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
+ Commenters must sign-up in advance or on-site to give comment
+ Comments limited to five minutes
+ Written comments also are encouraged

o Please pre-register

# Advance registration closes October 13. On- site registration starts October 21
# Contact: Ms. Julianne Pardi, ICF International
* Phone: (781) 676-4010 * Fax: (781) 676-4005
* Email:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Environmental Justice and DNA in Maryland

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, Maryland NAACP, ACLU and the State Public Defenders Office are accusing Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's administration of reneging on safeguards in a new law that expands police powers to collect DNA samples from crime suspects. The conflict arises out of whether DNA samples are taken from any arrested suspect or from those formally charged for specific violent crimes. The critics say they specifically negotiated exclusion of general arrect suspects with Governor O'Malley before supporting the legislation. Now they feel betrayed. There is also concern about disposing of DNA once an arrested person is cleared. The critics want the samples expunged if charges are dropped or a suspect is cleared. The critics also believe the regulations do not give clear instructions on how to make sure the samples are removed from federal databases.

Specifically, the conflict focuses on a word because the regulations allow police to take a sample from an "arrestee," which they interpret as someone being booked but not charged. But the governor's office calls an "arrestee" a person against whom a written accusation of a crime has been made and believe it is at that point the law allows police to take a DNA sample. The regulations were issued last month and now police officers and state prosecutors are being trained to implement the new regulation. The law takes effect in January.

Although DNA testing is a very good crime-fighting tool that has also proven effective in exonerating innocent people, it seems clear that generally collecting samples from suspects when they are arrested is too intrusive and violates the civil liberties of those who are exonerated. The state's previous policy was to take samples for its database after convictions. The black caucus has called for legislative hearings on the regulations and vowed to press the administration to change them. (The Washington Post, 9/4/08)