Posts Tagged ‘food security’

Farm Scoop – August

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Microscope Workshop for Farmersgoats

Common internal parasites of sheep, goats and camelids can be detected using fecal flotation methods. Equip yourself with microscopy skills that improve your ability to make sound management decisions.

Where: J. Franklin Witter Center, 160 University Farm Road, Old Town, Maine

When: Saturday August 9th, 2014. 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Workshop fee: $30 per person

Instructors: Jim Weber DVM PhD and Anne Lichtenwalner DVM PhD

For more information and to register.


tilled field at Highmoor FarmHealthy Soils Webinar Series

Managing for Soil Health on an
Organic Farm: A Farmer’s Perspective

Presenter: Klaas Martens, Lakeview Organic Grain,
Penn Yan, New York

When: August 12, 2014, 2:00 p.m. Eastern / 11:00 a.m. Pacific

60 Minutes

Our presenter, Klaas Martens, Penn Yan, NY, uses a diverse crop rotation to farm over 1,400 acres of organic corn, soybeans, small grains, a variety of peas, and cover crops. By adhering to one simple principle – every crop follows a suitable predecessor – Martens has improved soil health and function to cycle nutrients, increase water infiltration and availability, and eliminate both weed and disease pest problems. In this presentation, Martens will focus on the use of plants to change the soil and how soil biology can perform the services that are expected from tillage. He will also cover relay cropping, or starting one crop before the previous crop is harvested, and how this practice allows him to maintain a living root and cover on the soil all year. Can tillage be part of a soil health building system? For more information on the webinar, and how join, click here.


Family members picking green beans at Crystal Springs Farm in Brunswick, Maine; photo by Edwin RemsbergGubernatorial Forum on Agriculture

When: Tuesday, August 26th starting at 1:00 p.m.

Where: The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, 205 Church Hill Road, Augusta, Maine

The Agricultural Council of Maine (AgCOM) is sponsoring a gubernatorial forum on Tuesday, August 26th starting at 1:00 p.m. The focus of the event will be on Maine agriculture. The candidates will be speaking at different times and this event will not be a debate. Eliot Cutler will speak at 1:00 p.m., Governor LePage has agreed to participate at 2:00 p.m. and Congressman Mike Michaud at 3:00 p.m. at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

John Rebar, Director of Extension, will be serving as moderator.  While Cooperative Extension doesn’t take a political position regarding the candidates, we do encourage that everyone participate in our democratic process. The University of Maine wants to support a vibrant agricultural economy that is sustainable and prosperous.


wheat fieldCover Crops – Selecting & Sowing

Cover crops provide many benefits to the soil and next year’s crops.  August and September are the months in when most cover crops are sown in Maine.  Here is a link to a listing of cover crops for Maine.

Here is a link to a comprehensive guide to cover crops from NRCS.


Refining & Improving Your Product Sales

The Art & Science of Farmers’ Market Displays

By listening and questioning your customer, you will be able to provide the products and services they want. This link to a series from Penn State University Extension explores ways to better know your customer.

Do you want to learn more about using social media to market your products?  Here is a link that might be helpful.

Here is a link to several webinars for farmers about social media and mobile technology.


The Forestry Rules of Maine 2014

Questions about how to manage your woodlot? Download this new guide for free at


What’s in the 2014 Farm Bill for Farm Service Agency Customers?

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (the Act), also known as the 2014 Farm Bill, was signed by President Obama on Feb. 7, 2014. The Act repeals certain programs, continues some programs with modifications, and authorizes several new programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Most of these programs are authorized and funded through 2018.


unhusked cornScaling up Your Vegetable Farm

A new publication from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service helps farmers decide if they are ready to expand their operations to serve wholesale markets or produce more for direct markets. It describes how organization and planning can help a producer meet the challenges involved in scaling up. This publication addresses important considerations such as land, labor, food safety, marketing, and insurance. Find it for free online.


USDA Provides 12-Week Progress Update on Disaster Assistance

106,000 Payments Helping Farmers in 40 States Recover from Losses.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack provided a 12-week progress report on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs today, announcing that USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between October 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Farmers and ranchers who waited two and a half years for a Farm Bill are now getting some relief,” said Vilsack. “We met the very ambitious goal to get these programs up and running in just 60 days. Now, thanks to our dedicated staff in offices across the country, we’ve provided more than 106,000 payments to farmers and ranchers in 40 states who suffered drought, blizzard, and other weather related losses.”

A quick implementation of the disaster assistance programs has been a top priority for USDA. In February, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that enrollment for four disaster assistance programs would begin April 15, 2014, 60 days from the date the programs were reestablished by the 2014 Farm Bill. After the 2008 Farm Bill, it took over one year for the programs to get up and running.

Since then, dedicated full-time FSA staff, as well as temporary employees hired to expedite the application process, have processed over $1.2 billion in payments to qualifying farmers and ranchers. The first payments were sent out to farmers and ranchers within two weeks of enrollment. USDA estimated that roughly $2.5 billion would be provided in disaster relief to cover losses from October 2011 through September 2014. If those estimates prove accurate, it would mean nearly half of all disaster payments have already been provided.

While disaster relief is a critical lifeline that can prevent farmers and ranchers who do not have access to crop insurance from being wiped out by weather-related losses beyond their control, most producers only receive support equal to 60 percent of their actual losses.

USDA disaster programs include:

  • The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) provides payments for grazing losses due to drought and livestock deaths due to adverse weather.
  • The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), weather, wildfires and colony collapse disorder, or for losses not covered under other disaster assistance programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill.
  • The Tree Assistance Program (TAP) provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines that were lost or damaged by natural disasters.

Specific program deadlines are as follows:

• 2011-2013 ELAP – Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

• 2011 -2014 LFP – Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

• 2011-2014 LIP – Friday, Jan. 30, 2015

• 2011-2014 TAP – Monday, Feb. 2, 2015

Producers affected by adverse weather should contact their FSA county office to make an appointment and learn if they are eligible for disaster assistance. For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office.


goat producer with goats; photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDAScrapie Information for Goat and Sheep Producers

As a producer of sheep or goats, you ought to be aware of the latest information about scrapie.  The Scrapie Eradication Program has been fairly successful to date, however, there are still steps to be taken so that the disease might be completely eradicated from the US.  In an effort to keep you posted and with the support of the American Sheep Industry, Dick Brzozowski, Extension Educator assembled a file of information for sheep and goat producers. To get the complete file contact contact Lynne Hazelton at 1.800.287-.1471.

In addition, below are 3 links to more scrapie-related information.


Country of Origin Labeling — The Basics

When: Thursday, September 25, 2014, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Join USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for a live and interactive webinar, “Country of Origin Labeling—The Basics.”

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a labeling law that requires retailers to provide their customers with information about the origin of various food products.  This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, shellfish, beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, and chicken.  Mandatory COOL requirements help consumers make informed decisions about the food they buy.

AMS implements, administers, and enforces the COOL regulations.  Since the regulations were finalized in 2009, AMS and our state partners have closely monitored industry compliance with COOL through reviews of more than 25,000 retail stores and audits of nearly 2,000 suppliers.

During the webinar, Julie Henderson, Director of AMS’ COOL Division, will introduce COOL and discuss what we’ve found through our monitoring activities.  Her formal presentation will be followed by interactive question and answer session.

This webinar is free and available to anyone with Internet access.  However, space is limited and you must register to participate.  Register today for our webinar!

To learn more about COOL visit

This webinar is hosted by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).   To view previous webinars online, visit our Webinar Archive.

If you have any questions about our webinar series or USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, please contact Christopher Purdy at 202.720.3209.


strawberriesDisaster Assistance for 2012 Frost or Freeze Fruit Crop Losses Announced

Enrollment Begins July 22

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) assistance for losses to bush or tree fruit crops due to frost or freeze during the 2012 crop year.  The program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides supplemental NAP payments to eligible producers.

Farmers who did not have access to crop insurance and are in primary and adjacent counties that received a Secretarial disaster designation because of frost or freeze in 2012 are eligible for NAP assistance.  Losses due to weather damage or other adverse natural occurrences may also qualify for program assistance.

NAP enrollment begins July 22, 2014.  Applications must be submitted to FSA county offices by Sept. 22, 2014.

“After the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted into law, USDA expedited the restart of disaster assistance programs as a top priority,” said FSA Administrator Juan Garcia. “Fruit producers experienced significant financial losses from weather-related damage in 2012.  NAP provides them with long-awaited disaster relief.”

To expedite applications, producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting these losses in preparation for the sign-up in this program. Producers also are encouraged to contact their FSA county office to schedule an appointment. Limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and beginning producers are eligible for premium reductions and also may be eligible for fee reductions.

Interested producers can view the 2012 NAP Coverage for Frost, Freeze or Weather Related Fruit Losses Fact Sheet, or visit a local FSA office. To find out if land is located in an eligible frost/freeze county.


Nomination Deadline Nears for Farm Service Agency County Committees

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2014 — U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan Garcia reminds farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers that Aug. 1, 2014, is the deadline for local FSA county committee nominations.

County committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers and ranchers elected to local committees share their opinions and ideas on federal farm programs.

“There’s still time for eligible farmers and ranchers to get involved in this year’s county committee elections,” said Garcia. “Nominate yourself or a candidate of your choice to serve on the local county committee. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they work closely with county executive directors and make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues.

Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where the person is nominated.

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at Forms for the 2014 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2014. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 3 and are due back to the local USDA Service Centers on Dec. 1. The newly elected county committee members will take office on Jan. 1, 2015.



Farm Scoop – May 2014

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers FREE Hayfield, Pasture Management Workshops

Baling hayRick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

•  May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls

•  June 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Noon Family Sheep Farm, 78 Sunset Road, Springvale

Pre-registration is requested. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426, or visit the Waldo County program page

2014 FAMACHA Workshop

GoatOn Saturday, May 17th at 3:00 p.m. the North East Livestock Expo (NELE) in Windsor, attend a FAMACHA workshop, designed to equip sheep and goat producers with the skills and knowledge to determine the degree of infections of Haemonchus contorutus (barber pole worm). Cost PER FARM: $20.00 (enrolls multiple attendees). For more information or to enroll, please visit the Cumberland County program page

Pilot Farmers’ Market in Lisbon

The Town of Lisbon, under its Healthy Maine Streets initiative, is interested in starting a pilot Farmer’s Market for the 2014 season at the MTM Community Center at 18 School Street. If you are interested in participating in this exciting new market, please contact Economic & Community Development Director, Tracey Steuber.

There will be an informational meeting for all interested vendors on Tuesday, May 20th at 5:30 p.m. at the UMaine Cooperative Extension office located at 24 Main Street in Lisbon Falls. If you are interested, but unable to make this meeting, please let Tracey know.

UMaine Cooperative Extension offers 2014 Master Food Preserver Program

Strawberries-with-other-vegsMaster Food Preserver (MFP) volunteers serve to extend Extension’s educational programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The MFP Program includes 10 three-hour kitchen lab sessions in the Gorham Middle School, Family and Consumer Science Room, and the UMaine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office in Falmouth.

Sessions will take place throughout the growing season from June – September, focusing on food preservation techniques including: canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage techniques.

Once MFPs have successfully completed the Program, they serve as a volunteer and resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and USDA.

Details and application packets are available online at the Food Preservation – Master Food Preserver Program page.

The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Irrigation Workshop

This is the final session in a series of workshops for farmers in the Androscoggin Valley. Irrigation for Field and High Tunnel Production will cover state regulations, water budget, watering systems, drip irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, water conservation and related programs— May 6—All-day— Classroom session at Androscoggin/Sagadahoc Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls and on-site session  at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.  Advanced Registration Required. To register contact: Jane Heikkinen at 207.753.9400 ext. 400 for a form or go to

Please notify us with any special accommodation needs by May 1. The cost for this workshop session is $15 per person.  BRING YOUR  OWN  LUNCH . 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#68-1218-13-17.

garlic; photo by Edwin RemsbergNew UMaine Extension Garlic Website

Found as an important ingredient in many cuisines, garlic is an easy-to-grow, high value crop that is increasingly popular in Maine with farmers and gardeners. The UMaine Garlic Website will assist in all aspects of the garlic growing cycle.

Sign-Up for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency.  The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.  The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment.  Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more.  Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss.  Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Free Course for Farmers

The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute are cosponsoring an online course in Marketing aimed at farmers called Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success. This program is funded by USDA SARE’s NE Professional Development Program and hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County.

There is no charge for the course which can be taken by farmers at their convenience asynchronously and is accessible any time, day or night. Participants do not have to follow a specific schedule which makes it easier for farmers to participate since they can move through the course at their own pace.

The curriculum includes the following five components, or modules: Self-Assessment, Market Assessment, Customer Assessment, Communications Assessment, and Business Assessment. Within each module there are three sessions which include a video of each live presentation, Q & A documents, glossary of terms, links to additional resources, an online discussion forum, homework assignments, and a quiz. By completing all five modules, farmers will be able to learn essential marketing skills to analyze their personal and business capacity, determine optimal marketing channels, build their customer base, and increase their sales and profits. After completing the course, participants will have all the knowledge needed to create their complete farm business and marketing plan.

Successful completion of all sessions within each of the 5 components including the assignments and quizzes will earn the participant a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, farmers who complete the course in its entirety will be eligible for borrower training credits through the USDA Farm Services Agency.

To register for this free online curriculum to help farmers increase their marketing skills and grow their business, go to the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success page.

For more information on the curriculum, or on using the course to qualify for borrower training credits, please contact the Farmers Market Federation office at 315.637.4690.

Female black-legged tick

Female black-legged tick; photo by Scott Bauer.

UMaine Extension Tick I.D. Lab

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office has started a new tick identification lab.  The PMO has always identified ticks with averaging around 50 or so specimens a year.  The bulk of Maine’s tick identifications were done at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough.  There, they processed up to 1300 samples per year, looking at tick distribution and occurrence of Lyme disease as well as other tick borne problems.

As of Dec 31, 2013 they stopped this part of their research and approached the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office to take over the I.D. part of this service.  A website, as well as a submission program/online form, were quickly established, and a $10 fee per tick for ID instated.  To ensure quick turnaround time on specimens, an extensive day-long training was held at PMO for tick ID of the 14 species found in Maine. The program came online the first week April, and the first tick specimens are now being submitted.  Please go online to view the new website and find the submission form.

Pollinator Protection – A very important topic for growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators

In 2012, David Yarborough, University of Maine Wild Blueberry Specialist, said, “There are usually about 55,000 hives trucked in each spring from places as far away as Florida, Texas and California.” With anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 bees per hive, that’s a billion bees. Without these pollinators Maine’s wild blueberry crop yields would suffer.  Many other crops also rely on pollinators, especially our fruits and vegetables.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including parasitic mites, viruses, fungal diseases, malnutrition, lack of genetic diversity and improper use of pesticides. The overwintering losses have averaged in the 30% range over the last seven seasons (see graph below courtesy of  This level of decline is not sustainable.

honey bee loss graph in the USThe prevailing theory among scientists in the EPA, USDA and global scientific and regulatory community is that the general declining health of honey bees is related to complex interactions among multiple stressors including:

  • pests (e.g., varroa mite), pathogens (e.g., the bacterial disease American foulbrood) and viruses.
  • poor nutrition (e.g., due to loss of foraging habitat and increased reliance on supplemental diets);
  • pesticide exposure;
  • bee management practices (e.g., long migratory routes to support pollination services); and
  • lack of genetic diversity.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Maine must work together to help stem this tide of pollinator decline.  The Board of Pesticide Control’s website now has a web page to provide growers and applicators with resources to help reduce the risk of pesticide applications affecting pollinators (see link below).

We all need to know which pesticides and adjuvants are toxic to pollinators and how to reduce the potential for pollinator exposure when we use those products.  Of course the most risky products are insecticides, but there are some combinations of insecticides and fungicides or certain types of surfactants that appear to be toxic to bees and other pollinators in either their adult or larval stages.

Pesticide Bee IconSome products (neonicotinoid and diamide insecticides at first) will have new label warnings that include this “bee icon” on the label.  It is extremely important for growers and applicators to follow the restrictions on those labels very carefully.  Other labels will continue to have language that restricts application during bloom or when bees (or other pollinators) are foraging on flowering crops or adjacent weeds.  Of course those restrictions are equally binding.

Other important practices that pesticide applicators should follow to protect pollinators include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications by following integrated pest management practices
  • Choosing pesticides carefully – see How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides
  • Application of pollinator toxic pesticides (PTP) at night or when temperatures are under 45 degrees F
  • Delaying application of PTP until after full petal fall
  • Avoiding tank mixes, especially with insecticide-miticide or insecticide-fungicide combinations
  • Avoiding spills or splashes that leave pesticides in puddles or standing water
  • Notifying beekeepers within 2 – 3 miles of your application site prior to PTP applications
  • Avoiding multiple applications of systemic insecticides on potted nursery plants
  • Avoiding use of organo-silicone surfactants around bloom periods – see Compendium of Herbicide Adjuvants
  • Proper planting of treated seed to avoid creation of toxic dusts

The Board’s new Pollinator Protection web resource page provides additional information.

Additional resources:

 If you have any questions, please contact us at .

Weekly Advances Food Summit in December

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

The Weekly previewed the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s 2013 Maine Food Summit to be held 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Friday, December 6, in Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine.

To register or to request a disability accommodation for the summit, call Meghan Dill at 207-581-3878.

UMaine Extension to Host Maine Food Summit

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
State of Maine

Photo illustration by Michael Mardosa

Registration is underway for the 2013 Maine Food Summit, a daylong conference Friday, Dec. 6 at the University of Maine. The event, sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Wells Conference Center on the Orono campus.

The summit is an opportunity for food producers, business owners and anyone involved with and interested in Maine’s dynamic food system to share ideas about growing Maine’s agriculture and fishery, supporting the state’s economy and improving food security.

Tim Griffin, associate professor and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University, and Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, are keynote presenters. In addition, there will be panel discussions, workshops and opportunities to meet others interested in food systems.

Registration is $30 ($20 for students) through Nov. 22, and $40 ($30 for students) from Nov. 23 until the Nov. 27 deadline. Lunch is included. For more information or to register online, visit

To register or request a disability accommodation, call Meghan Dill at 207.581.3878. For more information, contact John Jemison at 207.581.3241.