by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties
State Sponsors Free Pesticides Disposal
It’s not uncommon for new owners of homes or farms in Maine to discover they have inherited hazardous waste in the form of pesticides, with old chemicals such as DDT, lead arsenate, 2,4,5-T and chlordane left behind in barns, basements or garages. Maine’s Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), the Maine Department of Agriculture, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are partnering to provide homeowners a free opportunity this fall to dispose of old pesticides that may be stockpiled on their properties. Required registration – the deadline for which is September 28, 2012 – is now open for the disposal day, which gives owners of homes, family farms or greenhouses the opportunity to safely and legally get rid of pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise unusable, including those that are banned in the state.
Due to safety and regulatory requirements, disposal “drop-ins” are not allowed and registration is necessary. The BPC will contact registrants several weeks prior to that drive to inform them of their local collection date and location. Register, get additional details or information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides online or call Henry Jennings, Director, Maine BPC, at 207-287-2731.
Insuring Specialized, Diversified, and Organic Farms
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will offer a one-hour webinar on Thursday, September 13, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, to explain Adjusted Gross Revenue Lite (AGR-Lite) – a unique, federally subsidized crop-insurance product that holds great promise to serve the needs of smaller, diverse, specialty crop, organic, and direct-market farmers. Farmers, crop insurance agents, agricultural lenders, and Cooperative Extension agents from states in the Northeast are especially encouraged to attend this webinar, which will be tailored to their needs. The webinar will feature regionally appropriate examples from the Northeast, and there will be ample time for attendees to ask questions about both AGR-Lite and the AGR-Lite Wizard. While most insurance products are tied to a specific crop or commodity, AGR-Lite is based on whole-farm revenue and allows farmers who grow several specialty crops, or diverse crops and livestock products, to insure their production based on their historic revenue. The webinar, “AGR-Lite – Understanding Whole-Farm Insurance for the Specialized, Diversified, and Organic Farms,” will explain how AGR-Lite works; provide a brief overview of crop-insurance limitations for specialized, diversified, and organic smaller farms, as well as demonstrate NCAT’s new AGR-Lite Wizard assessment tool. The presenter of the hour-long webinar will be NCAT Agricultural Economist Jeff Schahczenski. It is funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency. Register for the webinar online.
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) Applications Due October 15, 2012
USDA Rural Development has announced Value-Added Producers Grants (VAPG) for 2012. The primary objective of the VAPG program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the Program Regulation. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.
The Maximum Grant Amounts are $100,000 for planning grants & $300,000 for working capital grants. There is a cost sharing requirement of cash or eligible in-kind matching funds equal to at least the amount of grant funds requested. Apply or get more information about this grant opportunity online.
Farm Service Agency Provides Assistance to Livestock Producers
Androscoggin-Sagadahoc and Oxford Counties USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director CED Marcia Hall, announced that special provisions will made to the FSA emergency loan program and to the Risk Management Agency (RMA) federal crop insurance program in order to provide greater flexibility for livestock producers facing forage and feed shortages as a result of drought. On August 22, 2012, Secretary Vilsack announced that modifications will be made to the emergency loan program allowing them to be made earlier in the season. Producers will no longer have to wait until the end of the production cycle to obtain a loan. This change will support producers who currently need assistance to help offset high production costs.
Vilsack also announced that a special provision will be made to the federal crop insurance program through RMA that will allow producers to hay or graze cover crops without forfeiting crop insurance eligibility on planted 2013 spring crops. This change is beneficial to livestock producers making forage and feed available this fall and winter. However, before making any plans to plant crop cover, producers should consult with their insurance agent, according to RMA.
More information regarding special provisions to the emergency loan program is available online, or contact the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc County FSA office at 207-753-9400, x2; the Oxford County FSA office at 207-743-5789, x2; or Cumberland & York Counties FSA office at 207-883-0159 x2.
Maine Fiber Resource Guide – It Could Include You!
An online directory profiling Maine’s fiber community – fiber farmers, producers, artists, craftspeople, supply shops, processing mills, spinneries, etc. – is being created by Maine Fiberarts, a statewide nonprofit organization based in Topsham. The group is cooperating with the Maine Department of Agriculture, through a FSMIP grant, to compile this comprehensive, online, consumer-oriented listing of resources. The resource list may, also, include relevant books, websites, residency programs, and annual festivals or retreats. Listings are FREE, and for more information contact Maine Fiberarts at 13 Main Street, Topsham, ME 04086, 207-721-0678.
Focus on Fiber Seminar
UMaine Extension has partnered with several associations to plan and present a day-long Focus on Fiber seminar. The seminar is scheduled 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 27, 2012, at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, Maine. The purpose of the seminar is to equip Maine sheep, fiber goat, and camelid producers with the skills and knowledge to improve production, handling, and marketing of high quality fiber and fiber products. More information, including registration, is available online or call 1-800-287-1471.
New Guide for Starting Dairy Goat Enterprise
Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) recently published a 158-page Guide to Starting a Commercial Goat Dairy. To obtain a copy of the book email UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture or call 802-656-5459.
Small Scale Farmers: Register Now for Fall, Winter and Spring Online Courses – Cornell University
Whether you are a seasoned, new, or aspiring farmer, there’s something for you in the 2012-2013 line-up of online courses presented by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension. There are courses covering commercial production topics like raising veggies, berries, and poultry, and many more covering management of a successful farm, including business planning, holistic financial planning, marketing, and getting started in farming. Most courses are 6 weeks long and cost $200 each. Full course descriptions, instructor biographies, course logistics and more can be found at their Web site.