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UMaine Extension Launching Online Beginning Farmer Resource Network

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This month, University of Maine Cooperative Extension is introducing a new Beginning Farmer Resource Network and a question-and-answer website.

Developed by a group of agricultural service providers, the Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) is a collaborative online effort to address concerns among beginning farmers about available services and provide answers to commonly asked questions. The website, which will be updated as feedback is received, will be accessible Jan. 8 through the UMaine Extension website. The free program will expand online informational resources now available on the UMaine Extension website.

UMaine Extension will launch the initiative with introductory sessions during the Jan. 8–10 Maine Agricultural Trade Show in Augusta. BFRN members will be available to answer questions, guide users on website content and receive feedback.

Initial topics will range from taxes, financing and U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to finding land or local large animal veterinarians, and how to balance farm and family life. No real one-stop-shop is available for new farmers in need of assistance with the huge variety of issues they face in the first few years, says coordinator Tori Jackson, UMaine Extension professor of agriculture and natural resources in the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc counties office. BFRN is hoping to help make it a little easier, she says.

In addition in February, UMaine Extension also is offering a four-week course, “So You Want to Farm in Maine?” on Tuesdays, Feb. 5–26, 6:30–9 p.m., at the University of Maine Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth. A $50 per-farm fee includes course materials. Topics of discussion include selecting and evaluating farm enterprises, keeping production and financial records with QuickBooks, and doing market research for farm products and services. Classes will include panel discussions about available resources for farmers. Attendance is limited to 25 participants and preregistration is required. For more information, to register or to request disability accommodations, contact Andrea Herr, Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties office, 207.781.6099 or andrea.herr@maine.edu. Additional information is available on the UMaine Extension website.

Contact: Tori Jackson, 207.353.5550, or tori.jackson@maine.edu

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