The May issue of Farm Scoop is now available: Farm Scoop — May 2013. Read about New District Foresters, Specialty Food in Your Farm, Agritourism, eXtension, Maine Harvest for Hunger, 2013-2014 New England Small Fruit Management Guide, and more.
Archive for the ‘Farm Scoop’ Category
View the April 2013 issue of Farm Scoop.
Farm Scoop is produced by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County; Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties; and Frank Wertheim, Extension Educator, York County.
by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County; Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties; and Frank Wertheim, Extension Educator, York County
York County Farmers Network Breakfast
March 19, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale ME
(downstairs in the Nasson Heritage Room)
Enjoy a free, catered breakfast gathering for York County Farmers Network (YCFN) members, sponsored this month by Farm Credit of Maine, courtesy of Rob Horne. Join your fellow YCFN members for an informal networking opportunity and compare notes on getting ready for spring! After breakfast, Dave Tuttle will host the group for a tour of his winter greens and new hydroponic operation at Riverside Farms in North Berwick. For directions, or if you have questions, email Becky Gowdy or Frank Wertheim, or call us at (207) 324-2814. In case of weather concerns and possible cancellation, please call the office by 4:30 p.m. the day before, or check WCSH6 Storm Center cancellations.
The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production
There has been a lot in the news about farmers not being able to save and replant Genetically Modified seeds. Here is a resource for those who do want to try saving seeds of their favorite or important varieties for market and what you need to know to do so. Funded by Northeast SARE, The Organic Seed Grower:A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production is available through Chelsea Green Publishing or call them at 1-800-639-4099.
New England Meat Conference
Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, 2013
Grappone Conference Center, Concord, NH
The goal of the New England Meat Conference is to enhance the production, processing, and marketing of sustainable, nutritious, humanely-raised meat from New England farms by providing educational and networking opportunities for meat producers, processors and industry stakeholders. More information is available on the Conference website.
Coalition Providing Assistance to New Farmers in Maine
A group of federal, state and local agricultural service providers have joined together to assist aspiring, beginning, and transitioning farmers to succeed by providing information and assistance on everything from the soil to your wallet. This coalition, known as the Beginning Farmers Resource Network (BFRN), has created a one stop website for new and transitioning farmers. It offers a “toolbox” of information on important issues and concerns farmers should think about when starting or enhancing their business. The BFRN provides resources and contacts on such issues as acquiring land, how to farm, conserving natural resources, planning and managing your business, financing, regulations, marketing, and much more. The website, also, provides information on events and workshops that may be of interest. Please take some time to explore what the BFRN has to offer and let us know what you think.
Conservation Innovation Grants for Maine
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be up to $200,000. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration.
Applications must be received by NRCS no later than April 1, 2013 by 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). Applications sent via hand-delivery, express mail or overnight courier service must be sent to the following address:
Gerald Jacobs, Contracting Officer
Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Conservation Innovation Grants Program
967 Illinois Ave., Suite # 3, Bangor, ME 04401
Applications sent electronically must be sent through grants.gov.
For more information contact Christopher Jones, CIG Program Manager Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or call (207) 990-9563.
Kitchen Licensing Workshop
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
University of Maine Regional Learning Center
75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth ME
Registration fee is $35 MOFGA members; $40 non-members
This day-long workshop is designed for farmers and others interested in home food processing for resale. Licensing requirements, food safety and product liability insurance will be covered. Fee includes handouts and lunch. Register and find more information online, or call MOFGA at (207) 568-4142. This workshop is co-sponsored by MOFGA and UMaine Extension.
2013 Farm Tractor Safety Course
Tuesday evenings starting April 30, 2013
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Maine Forest Service, 356 Shaker Road, Gray ME
Fee: $20 includes the manual
This 5-session course is designed for new drivers (youth and adults). Individuals will receive practical training in the classroom, in the shop, and on tractors. Participants should be at least 13 years of age to participate in this certified course. Register or find more information online, or email Andrea Herr, or call 1-800-287-1471. Registration is required, and space is limited.
The New England Farm Account Book in Electronic Format!
This handy record book is now available electronically in an Excel spreadsheet format. To obtain a free copy of the electronic spreadsheet with directions on its use, please email Tori Jackson or call 1-800-287-1458.
by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties
Farm Service Agency Announces Important Program Updates
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) for many Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) commodity, disaster, and conservation programs through 2013. FSA administers these programs.
The extended programs include, among others: the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payment Program (DCP), the Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE), and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC). FSA is preparing the following actions:
- FSA will begin sign-ups for DCP and ACRE for the 2013 crops on Feb. 19, 2013. The DCP sign-up period will end on Aug. 2, 2013; the ACRE sign-up period will end on June 3, 2013.
The 2013 DCP and ACRE program provisions are unchanged from 2012, except that all eligible participants in 2013 may choose to enroll in either DCP or ACRE for the 2013 crop year. This means that eligible producers who were enrolled in ACRE in 2012 may elect to enroll in DCP in 2013 or may re-enroll in ACRE in 2013 (and vice versa). All dairy producers’ MILC contracts are automatically extended to Sept. 30, 2013. Eligible producers therefore do not need to re-enroll in MILC. Specific details regarding certain modifications to MILC will be released soon.
FSA will provide producers with information on program requirements, updates and signups as the information becomes available. Any additional details will be posted on FSA’s Web site.
2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School
The 2013 Maine Vegetable & Fruit School will be held Tuesday, March 12, at Seasons Conference Center in Portland, and on Wednesday, March 13, at the Bangor Motor Inn. Preregistration is requested no later than February 25, 2013.
- Storage Crops and Post Harvest Considerations
- Determining Your Storage Needs and Designing a Solution
- Produce Cooling and Storage by Design at Laughingstock Farm
- Storing Vegetables at Checkerberry Farm
- Marketing Winter Crops at Six River Farm
- Spotted Wing Drosophila Quiz
- A Virtual Visit to Jordan’s Farm
- Marketing to Your Community at Jordan’s Farm
- Should Strawberries be on Your Menu?
- Using Compost: The Good, Bad and Ugly
- New Pest Update: Spotted Wing Drosophila, Stink Bugs, Cutworms, Borers and Moths
The fee is $35.00 and includes lunch. Participants may receive 1 Pesticide Applicator recertification credit, and Certified Crop Advisors may earn 5 recertification credits. More information, including how to register, is posted on the Highmoor Farm Web site.
New Microloans Expand Small Farm Finance Options
FSA to Help Beginning and Small Farmers
New and beginning farmers in Maine now have an agricultural Microloan credit option to consider. As of Jan. 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will offer its customers a Microloan designed to help farmers with credit needs of $35,000 or less. The loan features a streamlined application and a simplified qualification process built to fit the needs of new and smaller producers.
“This innovative offering will be more customer-friendly than our larger, more traditional loan programs,” said Farm Loan Manager Mike Dennison. “Farms seeking a smaller loan for start-up or operational needs now have a great new tool to consider. For those selling at Farmers’ Markets or through community-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), a Microloan might serve their needs perfectly,” Dennison continued, “and the reduced paperwork associated with the new Microloan will help expedite the process for everyone.”
In FY2012, the Farm Service Agency provided approximately $13.2 million in farm loan assistance to agricultural producers of all sizes in Maine. That year, operating loans accounted for the majority of the loans extended (126), while farm ownership loans were fewer (20).
“The interest rate of 1.25 percent on the new FSA Microloan is also a great benefit for farmers who are just starting out, in need of capital and on a tight budget,” according to FLM Dennison. “Producers in every Maine county can contact their nearest FSA office for details and to determine if they qualify for a Microloan.” The Microloan term can be up to seven years.
In response to tighter financial markets, USDA has expanded the availability of farm credit, helping farmers refinance loans across the U.S. Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 128,000 loans to family farmers totaling more than $18 billion. Over 50 percent of the loans went to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. For more information on Microloans and other FSA programs, please contact your local USDA service center.
Scaling Up for Small Farm Profitability – Ready To Gross Up To $100,000 A Year?
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District are offering a five-workshop series covering the following topics:
- Marketing Your Farm Products
- Animal Health Issues
- Livestock Regulations and Production Practices
- General Soil Health, IPM and Pesticide Safety
- High Tunnel Basics
These weekly workshop sessions will begin February 26 and end March 26, 2013. The workshops will be held at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls. The cost is $75 per person to attend all five sessions or $20 per person for any individual session. The Small Farmer Workshop Flyer, and registration forms are available at the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District Web site.
by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties
23rd Annual Maine Beef Conference
December 1, 2012, the Maine Beef Conference will take place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor. The focus will be on marketing with keynote speaker Dr. Jim Ochterski from Cornell. Dr Ochterski will be talking about whole farm marketing strategy. Dr. Henrettia Beaufait from the ME Department of Agriculture will talk about regulations for selling meat in Maine. Gabe Clark of Cold Spring Ranch in New Portland will talk about the cost of production and what that means for making a profit. Trades show vendors will be available at breaks and during lunch. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m.
Find more information on the day’s schedule, registration fees, and how to register online, or contact Melissa Libby, 134 Hitchner Hall, UMaine Extension, Orono, ME 04469-5735, or call (207) 581-2788 or 1-800-287-7170 (toll-free in Maine).
Free Poultry Break Even Calculator – Webinar for Small Scale Producers
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has arranged for a free webinar on the business side of keeping poultry. In order to stay in business, your business needs to be profitable, no matter what size. The webinar is a product of a SARE grant in applied poultry science coordinated by UMaine Extension.
Learn how to use a spreadsheet for your backyard, small scale or mid-size poultry enterprise at a free, 60-minute webinar scheduled for 7:00 pm (EST) Tuesday, December 4, 2012.
The spreadsheet, known as the “break even calculator,” will help poultry producers better understand their costs and calculate a reasonable price for their product. The spreadsheet, developed by Extension Educator Adam Hady of Wisconsin Extension in Richland County, was designed with tabs for meat producers and egg producers to establish a minimum price for their product. To participate in the webinar, simply connect to the webinar site a few minutes before the scheduled start time. For an electronic copy of the break even calculator for poultry, email Extension Educator, Richard Brzozowski.
Maine Agriculture Trades Show
The 72nd Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show will take place January 8-10, 2013, at the Augusta Civic Center. Sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, this show provides an atmosphere to walk through, observe, and educate the public about different areas of agriculture. Many producer groups also sponsor seminars and workshops over the three-day event. This is a wonderful opportunity to network with other farmers, pick up a new tool, or learn a new skill to take back to your farm. Find more information on the event Web site.
Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success – Webinar Series Registration Now Open!
The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute have partnered with USDA Northeast SARE to present “Marketing for Profits: Tools for Success”, a series of webinars on marketing. These webinars have been designed with the assistance of regional and national marketing experts to provide critical marketing insights for farmers and farm markets throughout the northeast. The webinars are free, approximately an hour and a half long, and easy to access with a basic internet connection. Interested participants are encouraged to register online TODAY for the webinars they think they will attend. Each webinar will be repeated twice to maximize opportunity to participate, and are FREE. For more information, detailed descriptions of the sessions or a full 3-year curriculum, please contact Diane Eggert or David Grusenmeyer.
2012 Census of Agriculture
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) urges producers to ensure their farm or ranch is also counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is a crucial tool that provides farmers with a voice in the future of their community and operation. Conducted every five years by NASS, the Census is a complete count of the U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and other topics. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Results of the Census are used to serve farmers and their communities today, and help benefit the future generations of farmers tomorrow. Legislators at various levels of government use the data when shaping farm policy, and agribusinesses factor it into their planning efforts. Census forms will be mailed out in late December and responses are due by February 4, 2013. Producers have the option to complete their forms online or by mail. After all, the Census is your voice, your future and your responsibility. More information about the Census is available online, or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828).
So, You Want to Farm in Maine
A short course for farmers thinking about starting a new farm or new farm enterprise will be held at the UMaine Extension office in Falmouth in February 2013. More information to follow in January.
2013 Maine Poultry Coop Contest Announced
The Maine Poultry Growers Association has partnered with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in co-sponsoring the 2013 Maine Poultry Coop Contest.
You are invited to enter your poultry coop in this contest with a photo and description. The purpose of the contest is to showcase the many and varied designs used by Maine poultry keepers and enthusiasts. The Maine Poultry Growers Association will provide prizes of $200, $100, and $50 to the top three entries, respectively, and a subscription to Backyard Poultry magazine for the fourth and fifth place entries. Only Maine residents may enter the contest. All entries must include at least one, but not more than three, coop photo and a completed entry form.
The entry form and criteria are available online, or contact Andrea Herr at (207) 781-6099 or 1-800-287-1471 (toll free in Maine only). The deadline for submitting entries is December 31, 2012. Winning entries will be announced at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at the Augusta Civic Center. One need not be present to win.
Harvest Public Media
Harvest Public Media is a news media outlet that focuses on agricultural issues and related news stories. It is an interesting resource for national agriculture news, and may be helpful when communicating with others about national agricultural policy, weather or markets.
Need Pesticide Recertification Credits?
Check out the Maine Board of Pesticide credit calendar. Many approved pesticide applicator recertification programs are listed. You can view the calendar on their Web site or call 207-287-273.
Free Grazing Videos
The Cornell Small Farms Program now has a series of twelve YouTube videos covering all aspects of grazing. The series, which is just over 2 hours in total, covers everything from setting up electric fence, water systems and laneways to how to manage weeds or periods of drought. All 12 videos can be viewed here. The “How To” grazing videos were produced by Chenango County Cooperative Extension with funding from a Small Farms Program mini-grant.
by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties
The 23rd Annual Maine Beef Conference, “Becoming a More Successful Marketer,” is being held December 1st, 2012 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, Maine. The conference is being hosted by the Maine Beef Producers Association, Maine Grass Farmers Network and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. We would like you and your business to be a part of this year’s exciting program. For more information contact Donna Coffin or call 207-942-7396.
Break Even Calculator for Poultry Enterprises
A break even calculator for poultry meat and egg enterprises has recently been revised by its original developer, Adam Hady of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. Adam has given permission for UMaine Extension to distribute it to producers in New England. Email Richard Brzozowski for an electronic copy of the excel spreadsheet. In addition, we plan to have a webinar on using the calculator. This spreadsheet could be a very handy tool in calculating your costs and determining a profitable price of the poultry meat (any poultry species) or eggs that are produced on your farm.
The 60-minute webinar is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, December 4 at 7:00 pm. Please contact Colleen Hoyt or call 207-781-6099 for more information.
Soil Sampling Before the Ground Freezes
If you sample your fields now before the ground freezes, you can hold the samples until after January 1, 2013, when there is a window of opportunity for a reduced fee for analysis ($12 instead of the regular $15). Make sure you label your samples for storage. More information on soil analysis and pricing from the Maine Soil Testing Service laboratory in Oronois is available at their Web site.
2013 Cucumber Project
Extension Educator Richard Brzozowski has an idea for a cucumber/pickle project next year. It is limited to farmers and growers in Cumberland County. To find out more about the project, contact Richard Brzozowski or call him at 207-951-7155.
On average, how many cull cows (dairy or beef) do you send off your farm each month? UMaine Extension is looking into the possibility of helping dairy and beef producers get a better price for those cull cows in good condition by having the cows processed locally and sold as ground meat to institutions in Maine. If you are interested in possibly participating in this project or want to provide some input, please contact Extension Educator Richard Brzozowski or call 1-800-287-1471.
Chainsaw Safety DVD
Do you or those on your farm need a brush-up on safe chainsaw use? UMaine Extension has received a DVD on chainsaw safety from Stihl. This safety video applies to any make of chainsaw. To borrow the DVD, please contact Colleen Hoyt or call 1-800-287-1471.
by Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, Cumberland County and Tori Jackson, Extension Educator, Androscoggin & Sagadahoc Counties
Soil Course for Farmers
UMaine Extension has developed a five-part series to take an in depth exploration into physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil; management and enhancement of soil organic matter; options and recommendations for soil amendments; cover cropping, and crop rotations. Through this series, farmers will learn management strategies for optimum crop production and long-term soil health.
When: Tuesday Evenings, 6:30 – 8:30 PM, October 23 – November 20
Where: The Anderson Learning Center, 21 Bradeen Street, Springvale, ME in the Nasson Room.
Cost: The cost for the series is $25 per person, or $10 per session
Preregistration is required and is available online, or call 1-800-287-1535 or (207) 324-2814 for more information.
Focus on Fiber Seminar
A day-long seminar is planned to help fiber farmers establish or maintain a sound farm enterprise and produce high quality fiber from animals. The practical training is scheduled for Saturday, October 27, 2012 at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield, ME. You can register or find more information on our Web site, or call University of Maine Cooperative Extension at 1-800-287-1471.
Old Pesticides on Your Farm?
Are there old metal pesticide containers hiding in the back of your storage area? If there are, please take action! The metal may be weak, and may be leaking or about to leak. Pack them (container and all) into plastic seal-able pails (5 gallon paint pails work great) and store them in a safe, dry location. If the pesticides are still legal to apply, use them up as soon as possible, following label directions. If they are no longer legal to use, you may be eligible for free disposal through the Maine Board of Pesticide Control (BPC) obsolete pesticide disposal program.
Most metal containers left over from the 1980s have come to the end of their useful life span. Our inspectors have found many containers either leaking product or some that had already leaked out their entire contents. So please check any places where pesticides are stored and take action to prevent a spill. You don’t want to contaminate your storage area or potentially affect the ground water. Just a few minutes of checking could save many hours of cleanup time in the future. For more information or to register, contact Henry Jennings, Director, Maine Board of Pesticides Control, or call (207) 287-7543.
What Can I Do with My Small Farm?
If you a have a small farm, here are two links that might provide some useful information on suitable enterprises.
- What Can I Do with My Small Farm? from Oregon State University
- Agricultural Marketing from Penn State University
Supplemental Enterprises for Farmers
While visiting farms in other states this summer, I noticed that several of the farms had enterprises that were not agricultural in nature, but fit nicely on the farm. These enterprises spread the risks of the farmer by generating extra income, and included a dog kennel boarding business, room rental to students attending a local college, storage space rental, and space rental to local schools for gardens/classroom. These are just a few ideas for you to consider if you are thinking about ways to increase income. Find more information on income enhancement strategies for farmers from Purdue University.
Campsites on Your Farm?
Have you ever considered generating extra income by renting campsites on your farm property? Licensing is not required if there are four campsites or fewer on your property. It might be a feasible enterprise for Maine farmers but there are several things to consider. You can get more information by contacting Richard Abare, the Executive Director of the Maine Campground Owners Association, or call 207-782-5874 (office) or 207-754-4408 (cell).
Free Stretching Poster for Farmers
You’ve probably seen sports players stretch before a game as a way to get their bodies ready for the competition. Well, farmers do some pretty strenuous things in their work too. Maine AgrAbility, an outreach of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has produced a laminated poster with several suggested stretches for farmers. If performed daily, these stretches might help reduce injury. To get a poster, contact Maine AgrAbility or call (207) 844-1533.
Beginning Women Farmers Classes
This series of classes is sponsored by the Maine Women’s Agricultural Network, and funded by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. The Beginning Women Farmers program draws on the work of Allen Savory and others, and is designed to help women farmers to be successful. This innovative program instructs participants on using a holistic approach to decision making on their farms.
Participants will meet for 10 sessions on topics such as goal setting, financial, business, and marketing planning, land and infrastructure planning, soil fertility, and planned grazing. Participants are provided with a mentor and are connected with a network of other beginning women farmers throughout the Northeast for additional support. Two of the classes take place on local farms. Classes will be held in Fairfield, Maine, beginning on Sunday, November 4, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Cost for all 10 sessions is $300.00. Scholarships are available.
Class Subjects and Dates:
- Orientation and Overview of Holistic Management – November 4, 2012
- Holistic Goal and Testing Decisions – November 18, 2012
- Financial Planning I – December 9, 2012
- Financial Planning II – January 6, 2012
- Business Planning – January 20, 2013
- Marketing – February 3, 2013
- Leadership and Communication – March 3, 2013
- Land Planning – April 7, 2013
- Soil Fertility – May 5, 2013
- Grazing Planning – June 2, 2013
For more information, and to request an application, contact: Gail Chase or call (207) 453-4258 ext. 218.
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 more information with submission forms can be found on the group’s website, or 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 e-mail 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 website.
Ever Heard of Aronia?
Aronia, also known as black chokecherry (Aronia melanocarpa), is a fruit-bearing shrub native to North America that grows well in Maine. There is increasing interest in Aronia as a food crop, and two Aronia Field Days have been planned for the northeast. One is in Monmouth ME on Thursday, August 16, 2012, and another in Storrs, CT, Thursday August 9. The Field Days are free, but pre-registration is required. Pre-registration and more information are available online.
Spotted Wing Drosophila Update for Maine Fruit Growers
The first spotted wing drosophila of the 2012 season was found in a trap in Limington on Friday, July 13, 2012. Since that time, we have found spotted wing drosophila flies in traps at locations in Springvale, New Gloucester, Poland Spring, Mechanic Falls, Wales, Litchfield, Fayette, Thorndike and Warren. While we have not yet caught the flies at all of the locations where we are trapping, it would be best to assume that the fly is now fairly widespread and active through much of the state. Please refer to the Highmoor Farm blog for more information.
Merger of New Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Under Way
As the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation gets under way, a series of public stakeholder meetings have been scheduled to start this month. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Department of Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley encourage Maine citizens to participate in the public forums which are designed to gather suggestions, comments and ideas about the merger process.
Information about the meetings and the merger process can be found at the departmental merger initiative Web site that also includes an email address for comments. For more information about the public meetings contact Amy Higgins at (207) 287-2735 or Jeanne Curran at (207) 287-3156.
Current Pest Reports Available
Did you know that the University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes regular pest reports throughout the season? You can read current and recent issues of the Strawberry IPM newsletter, the Potato IPM newsletter, and the Sweet Corn IPM newsletter. MOFGA also offers a vegetable pest report.
2012 Potato Pest Guide is available online
The Potato Program team at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension provides information on potato production. They update the pesticide recommendations annually by May, more frequently if new products become labeled. This guide is not an exhaustive list of materials labeled on potatoes in Maine, but it is a list of recommended chemicals. Click here to find information on weeds, diseases or anything else related to raising potatoes in Maine.
Soil Biology Test Now Available
The University of Maine Analytical Lab just announced the availability of this non-chemical test that measures the microbial biomass and biological health of your soil. It is an extra $10 when you ask for a Standard or Comprehensive Soil Test. Beneficial microbes thrive on yearly additions of high quality organic matter (compost, manures, cover crops.) Recommendations on organic matter management are included. For more information and prices for the various tests, visit the UMaine Analytical Laboratory and Soil Testing Service Web site or call (207) 581-3591.
Interested in Helping Farmers Suffering from Drought?
Maine hay growers who are interested in sending hay out west to help farmers who are having problems with drought may connect with Loyd Wilson at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Mr. Wilson is trying to connect farmers in need with farmers with hay. Contact him by email or phone (573) 751-5513.
Sustainable Ag Questions? Try ATTRA
Experts in sustainable agriculture are waiting to answer your questions at no charge! The service is one of the most popular offered by the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA). ATTRA was developed and is managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service. Farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, and educators, can contact our experts through their hotline phone service, which is offered both in English and Spanish, and by using the “Ask an Ag Expert” function on the ATTRA Web site. Their experts can offer help with issues pertaining to crops, livestock, soil, water, nutrients, marketing, farm energy, and many other topics. ATTRA also has more than 300 publications, most of which are available to download at no cost, an archive of recorded webinars, an ecological pest-management database, an internship database, job opportunities, workshop and conference calendars, sustainable ag news and newsletters, and more. The ATTRA hotline numbers are 800-346-9140 (English) and 800-411-3222 (Spanish) or explore the ATTRA Web site.
Well Water Testing
Arsenic, radon and uranium are very common in Maine. None have any distinctive smell or taste – the only way to know if they’re in water is to have the water tested. The Maine Center for Disease Control recommends that well owners have their water tested each year for bacteria and nitrates, and every 3 – 5 years for arsenic, radon, fluoride, uranium, radon, etc. The Maine CDC has produced an excellent brochure describing these recommendations. More information on well testing, a list of laboratories certified to do drinking water tests, and information on what to do if test results show problems can be found at the Maine CDC’s Web site. The UMaine Extension Publications Web site also has several drinking water related publications.
Invasive Aquatic Plant Information Resources
Questions about invasive aquatic plants? You can contact the Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants, based in Auburn, at (207) 783-7733 for help in reporting and identifying suspicious aquatic plants. The Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton at (207) 647-8580; Maine Department of Environmental Protection at (207)287-7688; and the Maine Congress of Lake Associations (COLA) at 855-4-ME-COLA are additional educational resources for any questions or concerns regarding the health of Maine’s lakes.
Got Hay? Need Hay?
The Maine Hay Directory is a resource for people who need hay or have hay to sell. Check out the online directory or call your local Extension office for a copy.