Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Press Herald Article Focuses on Maine FoodCorps Program

Friday, February 7th, 2014

The Portland Press Herald reported on the Maine FoodCorps program, the state branch of a national program that teaches healthful eating, expands school-based gardens and increases locally grown food in school cafeterias. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension oversees the Maine program that is funded by the Maine Commission for Community Service, with 20 percent of the funding coming from the federal AmeriCorps program. The article states Maine was chosen as one of the original FoodCorps sites because of the state’s interest in and support of the farm-to-school movement.

MPBN Interviews Rebar for Report on Farm Bill, Hemp Growing

Friday, February 7th, 2014

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, for a report about how the final enactment of the current version of the Farm Bill, which is expected to be approved in the U.S. Senate, would remove a federal ban on growing hemp. Although growing hemp is already legal in Maine, Rebar said with federal bans in place, UMaine Extension never cultivated a crop or studied the issue beyond a 2003 study that found hemp could be a possible crop for Maine. He said if the bill passes, UMaine Extension will take time to understand what it would mean to grow hemp and the implications.

Rural Media Group to Air UMaine Cooperative Extension Videos

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Rural Media Group (RMG), a privately held corporation that owns and operates a portfolio of rural-based entertainment companies, is slated to air University of Maine Cooperative Extension videos on their morning “Market Day Report” and “Rural Evening News” programs. Videos likely to air include “How to Frost Seed,” “Working with Maine Business,”“How Do I Tap a Maple Tree?” and “Darling Marine Center Scallop Research.” RMG’s two channels, RFD-TV and RURAL TV, are dedicated to serving the needs and interests of people living in rural America with programming focused on agriculture, rural lifestyle, traditional country music, and live news and daily market coverage with a focus on the business and policy issues of rural America. RMG’s programming is available internationally and is currently distributed into more than 53 million homes through satellite and cable providers including DISH Network, DIRECTV, Time Warner Cable and Comcast.

Rebar Talks to Press Herald for Article on Legality of Growing Hemp

Friday, February 7th, 2014

John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was interviewed by the Portland Press Herald for the article “Growing hemp nears legality in Maine, but just for research.” The article states Maine is one of a dozen states in which hemp could be grown for research purposes if the farm bill passed Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law. Rebar said as long as commercial hemp production remains a violation of federal law, it’s unlikely Maine research institutions would be interested in studying it. He also said the potential market for hemp remains unknown because it is illegal to grow commercially in the United States, and the farm bill wouldn’t change that.

Farm Scoop – February 2014

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Webinar on Availability of Agricultural Grants and Application

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
10:00 a.m.-Noon
Hosted by Farm Credit East

Northeast producers are invited to participate in a webinar that will provide answers to questions about the grant process. This webinar is hosted by Farm Credit East.

This webinar will provide information on grants available to agriculture producers and who funds them, as well as answer questions about the grant process. Topics to be covered include what the application process is like, grants farmers can apply for on their own and when a grant writer should be engaged. In addition, information will be provided on the services Farm Credit East provides.

Presenter for this webinar will be Nathan Rudgers, director of business development for Farm Credit East. Mr. Rudgers works with clients planning or undergoing major business changes, including projects involving renewable energy systems, in particular, farm based renewable energy. He frequently speaks in state, national and international forums on such topics as renewable energy, food safety, international trade, agriculture policy and economic development.

Join us on Thursday, February 27, from 10:00 a.m. to noon to learn more about agricultural grants and how to apply. This webinar is free to participate. If you’d like to attend, click here to register.

 

February 17 & 18, 2014 – Business Planning Workshop with Richard Wiswall

Monday – 9:00 am to 4:00 pm; Tuesday – 9:00 am to noon

MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center, 294 Crosby Brook Road, Unity, Maine. Directions.

$60 per person including lunch – Register online for the Business Planning Workshop

This one and a half day workshop is designed to help those who have one year of farm production data and are ready to sharpen their pencil and get a better handle on their business. Please bring pen, paper, and a calculator. If possible bring your financials from the 2013 season including crop plan, income & expenses and sales figures. 

The workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Planning for Profit
  • Making a Profit on YOUR farm
  • Understanding Financial Statements
  • Your marketing strategies
  • Enterprise Budgeting

Instructor Richard Wiswall is the owner/operator of Cate Farm in Vermont and author of The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook.

An Update on The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

The comment period on FSMA will be reopened after the FDA has completed their initial review of over 17,000 comments submitted during the first open comment period. What does this really mean? It means that, if you think any parts of the proposed Produce Rule will negatively impact the environment on your farm or around your farm, you may submit your comments in one of the ways outlined below.

Written comments can be submitted to the following address:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

Submit electronic comments.

The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Workshops

Have You Been Looking For New Strategies For Your Farm? New and veteran farmers are welcome.

Workshop Topics

February 4 – Soil Health and Nutrient Management — Sign-in 5:45 p.m., Class 6:00-9:00 p.m. – Topics will be soil testing & analysis, conditioning preparation & spreading, phosphorus index, and related programs – at USDA Service Center, 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston.

February 11 –  Pest Management for Fruit and Vegetables – Sign-in 5:45 p.m., Class 6:00-9:00 p.m. – Topics will be pesticide safety & licensing, common pests and diseases, pest identification and resources, crop integrated pest management, related programs – at USDA Service Center, 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston.

February 18 – Transitioning To and Organic Production – Sign-in 5:45 p.m., Class 6:00-9:00 p.m. –  Topics will be best management practices, common amendments and fertilizers, regulations and certifications, related programs – at USDA Service Center, 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston.

Tomatoes growing in a High Tunnel

High Tunnel Tomatoes;
photo by Danielle Murray

May 6 –  Irrigation for Field and High Tunnel Production – Sign-in 8:45 a.m., Class 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. – Topics will be state regulations, water budget, watering systems, drip irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, water conservation and related programs. Classroom session at Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls and on-site session at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham. BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH.

Advanced registration is required. To register contact Jane Heikkinen at 207.753.9400 ext. 400 for a form, or go to www.androscogginswcd.org. Please notify us with any special accommodation needs five days before session. Cost for each workshop session is $15 per person. Scholarships are available for second person from the farm. Call at number above for scholarship details. Costs are able to remain minimal because of grant funding provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service under project. If any session is cancelled due to weather, workshop will be held the next day.

Pesticide Credits

February 11 – Two pesticide credits

February 18 – One pesticide credit

Nutrient Management Credits

February 4 – Two nutrient management recertification credits

February 18 – One nutrient management recertification credit

York County Farmers Network Upcoming Events

Sourcing Local Food – How We Do It – February 11, 5:30 p.m. – Potluck dinner and program starts at 6:30 p.m., 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine.
A panel discussion between farmers, restaurateurs and others who source local foods for CSAs, restaurants and other markets.

Farm Transition and Conservation Easements – March 18, 5:30 p.m. – Potluck dinner and program starts at 6:30 p.m., 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine.
A presentation on farms in transition from the current owners to the next generation or to other farmers, and considerations for farmland conservation easements.

100 Unique Maine Farms – March 25, 5:30 p.m. – Potluck dinner and program starts at 6:30 p.m., 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, Maine.
York County resident Mary Doyle spent 2 years on the road visiting 100 Unique Maine Farms and is writing a book on that topic. She has incredible stories and pictures to share.

Chelsea Market Field Trip – March 27 - Meet at the Wells Transportation Center/Park at 1:00 a.m. and commute with fellow farmers to a 3:00 a.m. arrival at Chelsea Market outside of Boston. 
Experience a unique behind the scenes tour of the market. We should be done by 5:00 a.m. and back in Wells by 7:00 a.m. for a day’s work.

FMI on all these events visit www.ycfn.org.

February 18: Join the Cover Crops and Soil Health Forum

potatoesYou are invited to attend a free live broadcast of the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health and join the discussion about soil health, improved yields, preventing erosion, managing pests, and building resilience in your farming system. In 40 locations across the Northeast, farmers and farm advisors will have an opportunity to learn from one another while exploring local and national perspectives on cover crops.

Beginning at 10 a.m. EST, a live-streamed broadcast of opening sessions from the national conference will feature Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and Howard G. Buffett, along with a panel of expert farmers. This session will be followed by facilitated discussions on local issues pertaining to cover crops. See a list of broadcast locations in the Northeast.

Because the national conference attendance is limited, these local forums are a way to include farmers, educators and researchers across the country in the conversation about the use and benefits of cover crops.

There is no cost to participate, but please contact the site you plan to attend in order to register and confirm both the location and other program details. Providing an RSVP will help host locations make adequate accommodations. Learn more about the conference.

The Maine Board of Pesticides Control will offer 1 pesticide recertification credit for participation.

February 19: Greenhouse Energy Workshop at Cozy Acres Greenhouses, North Yarmouth

Cozy Acres Greenhouses logo

Would you like see an operating solar panel/geothermal heat system in a Maine greenhouse? Learn about funding sources that can help you install a greenhouse energy project? Hear about a program that will subsidize an energy audit at your business? Learn about energy projects that other Maine greenhouse growers have installed? It’s all happening February 19th at Cozy Acres Greenhouses, North Yarmouth Maine from 9:00 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. The cost is $15, which includes lunch.

Sponsors: Cozy Acres, UMaine Cooperative Extension, Maine State Florists’ and Growers’ Association, Northeast Greenhouse Conference, and Maine’s Ornamental Horticulture Council

Space is limited, and preregistration is required. Register online.

Questions? Please email or call Lois Stack at lois.stack@maine.edu or 207.581.2949

Hope to see you there. This is a great way to get started on that energy project you’ve been thinking about!

Maine Vegetable and Fruit School 2014

Highmoor FarmThe day-long Maine Vegetable and Fruit School is offered on two dates at two locations: March 10 in Portland or March 11 in Bangor.  
Preregistration is required.  Registration cost is $35 and includes lunch. Please register by February 21, 2014.

More information.

SAVE THE DATE! 2014 Maine Grain Conference

The Maine Grain Conference will be March 15th, at the Bangor Spectacular Events Center, and feature speakers Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens of Lakeview Organic Grains, Penn Yan, NY.  The Martens are regional experts in all aspects of organic grain production and handling.  They will discuss crop rotations, fertility and weed management, seed production, and post-harvest grain cleaning, drying, and storage; as well as the topics and questions that you bring.  We’ll also learn from a panel of Maine grain growers about their successes and lessons learned; and hear about results from UMaine grain research. Registration information will be online at http://umaine.edu/localwheat/events/ when available.

Maine Wants People to Report Ice Storm Damage

The Maine Emergency Management Agency wants to hear from people who’ve suffered ice storm damage. MEMA is collecting information about the damage from the Christmas week storm that knocked out power to more than 160,000 homes and businesses, and left many in the dark for a week. MEMA Spokeswoman, Lynette Miller, says more information is needed to determine if the state might be eligible for assistance; it’s especially important to report major damage like burst pipes, heating and electrical problems and roof and structure damage from falling limbs and ice.

Mainers can report their damage by dialing 211.

The Maine Poultry Growers Association Wants You!

Maine Poultry Growers AssociationThe Maine Poultry Growers Association (MPGA) is looking to add new members to its organization and wishes to extend an invitation to you. The MPGA provides strong and enlightened leadership to Maine poultry growers, poultry fanciers, and game bird growers as well as strengthening sustainable poultry production. It also encourages environmental and animal care stewardship, the development and consolidation of specialty markets, and the production of unique and wholesome products.  The MPGA is also involved in teaching youth to acquire positive life skills by raising and caring for poultry, for fun and profit. Member benefits include educational programs, a MPGA newsletter, access to poultry experts, and much more! Becoming a member is easy. All you have to do is fill out the form found on the link below, then return with appropriate annual dues to the MPGA Treasurer, Alexander Luke.

For more information please visit our website www.mainepoultrygrowers.org.

2014 Maine Poultry Keepers School

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is partnering with the Maine Poultry Growers Association in presenting a day-long school for poultry producers scheduled for Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Additional co-sponsors of the school include the Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association and the Central Maine Bird Fanciers.

The purpose of the school is to equip Maine producers of poultry meat or eggs with practical knowledge and skills to improve their production and the quality of their products.  The school is designed for full or part-time farmers with a poultry enterprise.  However, the information presented will also be suitable for backyard keepers, bird fanciers and 4H teens.   A team of instructors from Cooperative Extension, MOFGA and the agricultural community will cover topics of poultry nutrition, efficient production, poultry health, best management practices, organic production considerations, labor saving tips and poultry meat quality.

The fee for participating in this school is $25 per person.  A discounted fee of $10 is available to members of the Maine Poultry Growers Association (MPGA). Each participant will receive a reference notebook, a poultry breakeven calculator, additional resources and refreshments.  Lunch will not be provided.  Registrants should bring their own lunch.

For more information and to register for the 2014 Maine Poultry Keepers School, please visit the Maine Poultry Keepers School website or call 207.781.6099.

2014 Ag Trades Show Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program Presentations Available Online

Agricultural Trades Show Maine logoSome of the pesticide applicator recertification presentations from the 2014 Agricultural Trades Show have been posted on the Board of Pesticides Control website. We will post as many as we can get permission to post. Currently you can see the following presentations:

2014 Agricultural Trades Show Presentations

  • Board of Pesticides Control Update (PPT or PDF)
  • Pollinator Protection: How Pesticide Applicators can Reduce the Risks (PPT or PDF)
  • Outbreak of Winter Moth in Harpswell Maine (PPT or PDF)
  • Blueberry Tip Midge 2013 Update (PPT or PDF)
  • Wild Blueberry Pest Management Update (PPT or PDF)
  • 2014 Corn and Forage Update (PDF only)

To look for more presentations, go to http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/download_library.shtml#PRESENT.  Just remember to refresh your browser each time. 

 

Maine Vegetable and Fruit School – March 10 and 11, 2014

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Maine Vegetable and Fruit School 2014

Highmoor Farm

Monday, March 10, 2014
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Seasons
Conference Center, Portland, Maine

OR

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Bangor
Motor Inn Conference Center, Bangor, Maine

Registration Fee:  $35.00, includes lunch

PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please preregister by February 21, 2014.

This day-long school is offered for Maine farmers on two dates at two locations: March 10 in Portland or March 11 in Bangor. The agenda and registration form are posted on UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Highmoor Farm website.

Workshops for New Farmers to be Held at Agricultural Trades Show

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Agricultural Trades Show Maine logoAre you a new farmer? Do you need help navigating the various programs and services available to help you succeed in your new farming enterprise? The Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) — a coalition of farm service providers supporting the whole farm community including agriculture, aquaculture, and forestry — will be conducting workshops on various topics for new farmers at the Agricultural Trades Show to be held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 7-9, 2014. The schedule and topics for these workshops can be found in the Agricultural Trades Show program brochure. The workshops will be held from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 8 and from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 9. There will also be a networking room where you can come and talk to a representative of BFRN about your farm. The networking room will be open Tuesday-Thursday during the hours of the Trades Show. Go to BFRN’s website at www.umaine.edu/beginning-farmer-resource-network/ — the one-stop website for new farmers — for a “toolbox” of information on important issues/concerns that farmers should think about when starting their business.

UMaine Cooperative Extension High Tunnel Workshop – January 9, 2014

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

High Tunnel Workshop 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014
9:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Arnold/Howard Rooms, Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Registration Fee:  $20.00, includes book

PREREGISTRATION IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. Please preregister by January 3, 2014.

This workshop is designed to help people who are interested in using high tunnels for vegetable and fruit production as part of a commercial enterprise.

Please visit UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Highmoor Farm website to register online and for more information.

What’s possible: Maine AgrAbility helps farmers with disabilities remain active and independent

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Naomi King and Alexandra Tomaso in an apple orchard

King, far left, operates Pietree Orchard in Sweden, Maine, with the help of her assistant Alexandra Tomaso. Tomaso started working for King this past April at the suggestion of Maine AgrAbility.

Naomi King, a Unitarian Universalist minister and daughter of authors Tabitha and Stephen King, moved to Sweden in 2012 to be closer to her family after her rare muscular disorder started to advance. King, who uses a wheelchair, took the management job at the family-owned farm business.

By February 2013, the challenges of managing a successful, growing mid-size farm began to take a toll.

“I was at the point where I could not work at all here anymore,” King says.

Then King discovered a reference to the National AgrAbility Project online. When she learned there was a Maine program, King contacted Maine AgrAbility Project Coordinator Lani Carlson to determine if the program would apply to her.

Maine AgrAbility, a USDA grant-funded state program helps farmers with chronic health conditions and disabilities gain more control of their lives, continue to farm successfully and live independently. The Maine AgrAbility program is a nonprofit collaboration of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One.

Since receiving USDA funding in 2010, Maine AgrAbility has assisted more than 160 Maine farmers who have disabilities by offering services that range from answering agricultural questions, to suggesting ways to adapt tools or work sites, to referring farmers to other local support agencies.

“I was tremendously discouraged and convinced I couldn’t do anything related to the farm anymore,” King says. “So to be able to come to work six days a week is invaluable to me. It gives me a lot of purpose.”

Read more about King’s experience with Maine AgrAbility.

Farm Scoop — December 2013/January 2014

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference

New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference 2013Dates: December 17–19

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. sessions, plus evening events

Location: Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester, NH

Cost: $105 for the first member of farm or business; $75 each additional member.

Includes more than 25 educational sessions over 3 days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops as well as various special topics. A Farmer to Farmer meeting after each morning and afternoon session will bring speakers and farmers together for informal, in-depth discussion. There is also an extensive Trade Show with over 100 exhibitors. For more information: http://www.newenglandvfc.org.

Cornell Small Farms Marketing Class

Woman in front of hoop houses on small farm; photo by Edwin RemsbergDates: Monday, January 6 – Monday, February 10, with webinars once weekly on Monday evenings

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. EST

Location: online

Cost: $200; multiple people from the same farm may participate without paying extra

It is rare to find someone who got into farming because they’re passionate about selling. It’s the growing part that attracts most people, and many farmers start small enough that they can get away without a well-planned marketing strategy at first. But as the farm expands and competition grows, it’s harder to be successful without a strategy. New and experienced farmers alike will benefit from honing their marketing skills with the Cornell Small Farms Program’s online course BF 201: Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer. Join popular Cornell Cooperative Extension educators Matt LeRoux and Laura Biasillo, and several savvy farmers to learn and apply practical, on-the-ground tips to focus your marketing and use your limited time wisely. The course runs Monday, January 6 – Monday, February 10, with webinars once weekly on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. EST. The cost is $200, and multiple people from the same farm may participate without paying extra.

2014 Maine Agricultural Trades Show

Agricultural Trades Show Maine logoDates: January 7 – 9, 2014

Times: Tuesday, January 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Thursday, January 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine

Cost: FREE!

The 73nd annual Agricultural Trades Show will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 7-9, 2014. Admission is FREE! This show provides an atmosphere to walk through, observe, and educate the public about different areas of agriculture. Many commercial agriculture associations will hold their annual meetings and sponsor educational workshops over the course of the three days. A full schedule of events and program will be posted on the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website at http://www.getrealmaine.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/calendar.detail/event_id/94/ in December 2013. Show hours are Tuesday, January 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 8 from 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Thursday, January 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG)

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) was issued today in the Federal Register. Applicants must demonstrate that they meet all definition requirements at 7 CFR 4284.902 for one of the following applicant types: Independent producer, agricultural producer group, farmer or rancher cooperative, or majority-controlled producer-based business venture. If you are a Harvester, it is the Agency’s position that you may only apply as an Independent Producer applicant type because harvester operations do not meet Agency definition requirements for a Farm or Ranch. This program provides funds for planning or working capital. There are separate and distinct applications for each. Funds cannot be used for construction, machinery or equipment. These are available at the USDA Rural Development website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html; all program regulations are also available on this website. There is a matching funds requirement of at least $1 for every $1 in grant funds provided by the Agency (matching funds plus grant funds must equal proposed total project costs). There are new maximum limits for grant requests. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $75,000, and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $200,000. This is a change from the last round of funding. To be eligible for funding, you must submit your application by February 24, 2014. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped or sent overnight by this date.

USDA Farm Storage Loans Available

USDA Maine State Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Donovan E. Todd, III, reminds farmers and ranchers that Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFL) are available through FSA.

The Farm Service Agency offers low-interest loans to grain producers to build new or upgrade existing storage facilities and permanent drying and handling equipment. Loan opportunities

  • New conventional-type cribs or bins, oxygen-limiting and other upright silo-type structures, and flat-type storage structures designed for whole grain storage,
  • Perforated floors, safety equipment, quality improvement equipment, electrical equipment and concrete components considered essential for a fully functional storage facility,
  • Remodeling existing storage facilities to increase storage capacity.

Farm storage facility loans must be approved prior to site preparation, equipment purchase or construction, and must be secured by a promissory note and security agreement. The new maximum principal loan amount is $500,000. Participants are required to provide a down payment of 15 percent, with CCC providing a loan for the remaining 85 percent of the net cost of the eligible storage facility and permanent drying and handling equipment.

Additional security is required for poured-cement open-bunker silos, renewable biomass facilities, cold storage facilities, hay barns and for all loans exceeding $50,000. New loan terms of seven, 10 or 12 years are available depending on the amount of the loan. Interest rates for each term rate may be different and are based on the rate which CCC borrows from the Treasury

Contact your local county office for more information.

Farm Aid Needs Your Feedback

The national farm organization, Farm Aid, is exploring their role in the food and farm movement and how they communicate that to you.

Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $43 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and is an opportunity to share your insights. Your responses will be anonymous and confidential.

Please do not hesitate to contact Jessie Deelo at Farm Aid if you have any questions or concerns. She can be reached at jessie@farmaid.org or 617.354.2922.

AgriTourism Link

Is your farming operation involved in agritourism or is an agritourism enterprise in your farm’s future? Rutgers University has developed an excellent resource for farmers and others on the topic. UMaine Extension is collaborating with Rutgers on this project. The website has 6 training modules, 3 short training videos, and plenty of fact sheets and support materials. This winter could be a great time to explore the possibilities. Here is a link to the website: http://agritourism.rutgers.edu/training/.

What Are Lenders Looking For?

A UVM Extension New Farmer Project webinar, Thursday, December 19, Noon – 1:00 p.m., EST

Join Benneth Phelps, Loan and Outreach Coordinator for the Carrot Project for a webinar on the “tools” that every farm business should have to help them obtain financing, even if they don’t need it now. Improve your understanding of available financing and gain perspective on how financing can help your business succeed! Benneth Phelps is Loan and Outreach Coordinator at The Carrot Project, a non-profit offering financing and assistance to both farms and food enterprises in the Northeast. Originally a fruit and vegetable farmer by training, she has a decade of experience farming in New England.

This webinar is free and requires no preregistration. Newcomers to online learning are welcome. All you need to participate is internet access and a computer that you can hear sound through. To participate, please go to http://go.uvm.edu/aemon at about 11:45 a.m EST on December 19, 2013 and click on the webinar title. For more information, contact newfarmer@uvm.edu or call 802.223.2389 x203. If you require accommodations to participate in this program, please let Jessie Schmidt know by December 15, 2013 at 802.223.2389 or 1.866.860.1382 (toll-free in VT) or newfarmer@uvm.edu so we may assist you. If you have not participated in a webinar before, we recommend you download the necessary software for free the day before the webinar is scheduled at http://tiny.cc/UVMWebinarCheck.

Cornell Small Farms Program

Step One to farming profitably is having organized financial records. Step Two is knowing how to read what those records are telling you. If you don’t yet have a record-keeping system set up, or you aren’t happy with your current system, have no fear! The upcoming 6-week online course BF 104: Financial Records: Setting Up Systems to Track Your Profitability is perfect for you. This course will help you create a record-keeping system that is as simple or complex as you need it to be, in Excel or Quickbooks.

(Incidentally, Step Three to farming profitably is taking corrective action if you don’t like what your current financial records tell you about your business. But that’s covered in BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning)

“It’s been hard for me to take my focus off production and spend time on record keeping — it always falls to the end of my long to-do list. But this course made me realize that once I have a good system set up, it doesn’t have to take long to maintain, and the information I get from these records is helping me feel much more confident about my farm.”
— farmer participant from Jan. 2013 BF 104 course

If you complete the course you will:

  • Appreciate why keeping farm financial records is essential.
  • Be familiar with how a financial record keeping system is organized and why it is beneficial for farmers.
  • Be able to set up a simple spread sheet (MS Excel) and software program (QuickBooks Pro) to start financial data collection.
  • Learn to calculate simple business ratios to assist in management decisions.
  • Discover requirements used by lending institutions to make loan determinations.

The course runs Mon. Jan. 13 – Feb 17, with webinars once weekly on Monday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. EST. The cost is $200, and multiple people from the same farm may participate without paying extra.

See the BF 104: Financial Records course description for more on the target audience, instructors, and course outline.

BF 104: Financial Records – Setting Up Systems to Track Your Profitability is part of the line-up of 12 online courses offered this Fall, Winter and Spring by the Cornell Small Farms Program. To learn more about each course, please visit http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses. From this site you can learn more about our instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read details for each course, and view the calendar of course offerings for 2013-2014.

Courses often fill very quickly, so don’t miss your chance to sign up today!

Get Your Business Energy Audit While Grant Funds Last! 

Maine Rural Partners currently offers a heavily discounted energy audit and renewable assessment for Maine’s farms and small businesses. From demand management techniques to equipment upgrades, the audit delivers tailored cost saving recommendations and clear payback analyses for your operation. The audit also qualifies your business to apply for USDA grants, loans, and cost-shares to underwrite efficiency investments.  
 
If you are interested in exploring solar, biomass or heat pump technologies, the energy solution provider conducting the audit can perform a renewable assessment as well for your business. Following the assessment, you may apply to become a Farm Energy Partners demonstration site, which brings more technical and financial assistance to the table. An audit is required to receive the renewable assessment. 
 
To be eligible, you must qualify as an agricultural producer or rural small business. Priority is being given to farms and food-related businesses. If you are interested taking advantage of this opportunity, contact Matt George at 207.778.3885 or matt@mainerural.org. Or fill out the free Business Energy Survey at www.mainerural.org to get started and Matt will contact you. 
 
Note for Agricultural Producers: The FY14 NRCS Energy Initiative Sign-up Deadline is December 20th. Order an MRP audit NOW to apply for implementation assistance (payment amounts not yet available but applications accepted in county offices).