Farm Scoop – November 2014
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Public Invited to Attend Farm Bill Informational Meetings
The Farm Service Agency and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service are planning a series of Farm Bill informational meetings to be held at the following dates and corresponding locations:
November 6, 2014 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Buxton Town Hall
185 Portland Road, Buxton, ME 04093
November 6, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tuscany Hall Function Center
17 Olson Road, South Paris, ME 04281
November 7, 2014 from 2 p.m .to 4 p.m.
Pineland Farms The Commons Mt. Washington Room
59 Pineland Drive, New Gloucester, ME 04260
November 10, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Maine Forest Products Council
535 Civic Center Drive, Augusta, ME 04330
November 10, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
UMM/Machias, ME 04654
November 12, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Knox-Lincoln Cooperative Extension
377 Manktown Road, Waldoboro, ME 04572
November 13, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Exeter Town Hall
1220 Stetson Road, Exeter, ME 04435
November 17, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Good Will-Hinckley, Prescott Cafeteria
16 Prescott Drive, Hinckley, ME 04944
November 24, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
UMF, Lincoln Auditorium
Farmington, ME 04938
Educational Programs — Sheep & Goat Seminar
The 2014 Sheep & Goat Seminar will focus on animal health in the northeast and equip producers with skills and knowledge to keep their animals healthy and productive. Topics will include disease prevention, detecting disease, common diseases, health-related tools, and the Scrapie program.
Date: Saturday, November 15, 2014
Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Kennebec Valley Community College, Fairfield, Maine
Cost: $35 per person (lunch and handout notebook are included)
Instructors: Dr. James Weber, DVM; Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, DVM; Dr. Richard Brzozowski, PhD; and a practicing veterinarian.
USDA Extends Dairy Margin Protection Program Deadlines
Enrollment Continues Through Dec. 5; Comments Accepted Until Dec. 15
GRAPEVINE, Texas, Oct. 29, 2014 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting, today announced extended deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until Dec. 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer.
“We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices,” said Vilsack. “Markets change and the Margin Protection Program can help protect dairy producers from those changes.”
Vilsack encouraged producers to use the online Web resource at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation. “Historical scenarios also can be explored to see how the Margin Protection Program would function should poor market conditions occur again in the future,” said Vilsack. The secure website can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also extended the opportunity for public comments on both the Margin Protection Program and the Dairy Product Donation Program until Dec. 15, 2014.
“USDA is committed to creating strong opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. When dairy producers bring new family members into the business, these changes could affect safety net coverage,” said Vilsack. “If our current rules hinder intergenerational changes or if improvements are needed in these programs, then we want to hear from dairy producers.”
Comments can be submitted to USDA via the regulations.gov website at http://go.usa.gov/GJSA.
Today’s announcement was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
What is a PHEP?
A Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plan (PHEP) is a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) developed for a client that addresses the improvement, restoration, enhancement, expansion of flower-rich habitat that supports native and/or managed pollinators.
The PHEP will meet NRCS quality criteria for soil erosion control, water quality, soil quality, plant condition, fish and wildlife, pasture/woodland health and productivity, and other identified resource concerns.
The plan will identify client objectives such as:
- Improve pollination service provided by wild (unmanaged) bees by:
- Increasing floral diversity and ensuring continuous and diverse bloom,
- Increasing undisturbed habitat/ground (including the creation of alkali or other ground-nesting bee beds),
- Increasing nesting opportunities for tunnel-nesting bees, and
- Providing pollinator refugia.
- Improve pollen diversity and nectar availability for managed bees kept on site.
- Increase diversity and availability of butterfly host plants.
- A PHEP may be developed for either farms or forestland.
Developing a PHEP
Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Plans will be developed by an independent Technical Service Provider (TSP). You will be responsible for contacting and hiring the TSP. You can find the names of certified TSPs at http://techreg.usda.gov/, or through your local NRCS office (listed on page 2).
NRCS provides part of the payment to eligible participants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) based on average costs associated with practice implementation. A conservation activity plan must be approved in a participant’s contract as a financial assistance item in order for the participant to receive $2,225 (*non-local $3,231) for the development of the PHEP. Participants classified as Historically Underserved will receive $2,669 (*non-local $3,877). The NRCS payments are fixed, regardless of what a TSP charges for the plan. Participants are responsible for paying the difference.
*No TSP available within a 300-mile radius of the work location.
Applications are being accepted on a continuous basis. However, applications received by December 20, 2014 will be considered for funding in 2015.
Need More Information? Contact:
254 Goddard Road Lewiston, ME 04241-1938
Central Aroostook 735 Main Street, Suite #3 Presque Isle, ME 04769
304 North Street Houlton, ME 04730-9527
St. John Valley
139 Market Street, Suite 106 Fort Kent, ME 04743-1425
Cumberland and York Counties:
306 U.S. Route 1, Suite A1
Scarborough, ME 04074-9774
107 Park Street Farmington, ME 04938-1915
1423 Broadway, Suite #4, Bangor, ME 04401
Tel: 207.947.6622 ext. 5
Kennebec and Lincoln Counties:
Central Maine Commerce Center
21 Enterprise Drive, Suite #1 Augusta, ME 04330
17 Olson Road, So. Paris, ME 04281
1423 Broadway, Suite #2 Bangor, ME 04401
42 Engdahl Drive Dover-Foxcroft, ME 04426-3717
12 High Street, Suite #3 Skowhegan, ME 04976-1998
Waldo and Knox Counties:
266 Waterville Road Belfast, ME 04915-1224
8 M & M Place, Suite #5B Machias, ME 04654-0121
USDA Releases New State-by-State “Made in Rural America” Report — New Data Demonstrates Obama Administration’s Record Breaking Investments in Rural America
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2014 – As part of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commitment to strengthening rural economies, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new state-by-state “Made in Rural America” report illustrating the impact of USDA investments in rural communities. Each state factsheet highlights specific USDA investments in rural businesses manufacturing, energy, water and other infrastructure development. They also outline how USDA is helping rural communities attract businesses and families by investing in housing and broadband.
“This report shows what investment in rural America means in real terms for families and businesses across the country,” said Vilsack. “Throughout the Obama Administration, USDA has created employment opportunities in rural America through investments in manufacturing, energy and small businesses. At the same time, we are bringing reliable services like water, housing and broadband to make these same communities attract and retain a talented workforce. This report proves that the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in rural America.”
These fact sheets reflect Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to strengthen the “four pillars” of a new economy in rural America: developing a robust bio-based economy; promoting exports and production agriculture fueled by increased productivity and research; encouraging conservation including land management, stewardship and outdoor recreational opportunities; and building a strong local and regional food system to harness entrepreneurial innovation and help small and medium-sized family farms succeed in rural America.
The report’s state by state fact sheets are available at www.usda.gov/opportunities.
USDA Issues Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Payments for Certain 2013 Crops in Maine
Bangor, ME Oct. 27, 2014 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Donovan E. Todd, III announced today that FSA has begun distributing Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) payments for revenue losses associated with certain crops in Maine. Discontinued by the 2014 Farm Bill, the ACRE program provided producers with protection from revenue losses for crops grown in 2009-2013.
Crops eligible for October payments include and wheat grown in the 2013 crop year. Three producers on Three farms in Maine enrolled 285.3 acres in ACRE. The Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 requires these payments to be reduced by 5.1 percent.
For more information on ACRE, producers should contact their local FSA office or visit FSA’s website at www.fsa.usda.gov.
USDA Offers Farm Loans for Beginning Farmers & Socially Disadvantaged Groups
(Bangor, ME, October 30, 2014 – Maine State USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Don Todd III reminds producers that FSA offers specially-targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to Beginning Farmer (BF) and Socially Disadvantaged (SDA) applicants. “Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business and FSA is committed to helping producers start and maintain their agricultural operations, “said SED Todd. In fiscal year 2014, Maine FSA obligated $5.3 million in direct and guaranteed loans to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged producers.
FSA defines Beginning Farmers as those who have not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years, do not own a farm or ranch greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the county if applying for a farm ownership loan, and who substantially participate in the operation of the farm. It defines Socially Disadvantaged applicants as a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. These groups consist of: American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Asians, Blacks or African Americans, Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and women.
BF and SDA producers who may not be able to obtain commercial credit from a bank can apply for either FSA direct loans or guaranteed loans. Direct loans are made to applicants by FSA. Guaranteed loans are made by lending institutions who arrange for FSA to guarantee the loan. FSA can guarantee up to 95 percent of the loss of principal and interest on a loan. The FSA guarantee allows lenders to make agricultural credit available to producers who do not meet the lender’s commercial underwriting criteria.
The direct and guaranteed loan program offers two types of loans: farm ownership loans and farm operating loans. Farm ownership loan funds may be used to purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, purchase easements or rights of way needed in the farm’s operation, build or improve buildings such as a dwelling or barn, promote soil and water conservation and development and pay closing costs. Farm operating loan funds may be used to purchase livestock, poultry, farm equipment, fertilizer, and other materials necessary to operate a successful farm. Operating loan funds can also be used for family living expenses, refinancing debts under certain conditions, paying salaries for hired farm laborers, installing or improving water systems for home, livestock, or irrigation use and other similar improvements.
Repayment terms for direct operating loans depend on the collateral securing the loan and usually run from 1 to 7 years. Financing for direct farm ownership loans cannot exceed 40 years. Interest rates for direct loans are set periodically according to the Government’s cost of borrowing. Guaranteed loan terms and interest rates are set by the lender.