Farm Scoop – August 2015

NEW Online Course Helps Farmers Set Up QuickBooks

How profitable was this market over that one? Should we raise chickens again? How is the business doing? Answers to these questions must be informed by highly organized, detailed farm financial information. As your farm business evolves and matures, QuickBooks most often becomes the solution of choice for storing all of your farm’s financial data and analyzing your business.

Now farmers can get some directed and one-on-one guidance in the set up and use of QuickBooks for their farm business in an online course offered October 5 – Novenber 9, 2015, with live Monday evening webinars from 7:00 – 8:00 PM Eastern Time.

BF 204: QuickBooks for Farmers is led by veteran Cornell Cooperative Extension educators who will provide a combination of self-paced activities, homework and personalized guidance to beginning farmers seeking to put QuickBooks to use for their farm business.

This 6-week course costs $200. Participants who complete all requirements of one or more Northeast Beginning Farmer Project online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip.

Androscoggin/Sagadahoc/Oxford County Producers Urged to Consider Risk Protection Coverage before Fall Crop Sales Deadlines

(Oxford/Maine), August 25, 2015 — USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director CED Marcia Hall, reminds producers to review available USDA crop risk protection options, including federal crop insurance and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage, before the fall-seeded crop deadline of September 1, 2015.

Federal crop insurance covers crop losses from natural adversities such as drought, hail and excessive moisture. NAP covers losses from natural disasters on crops for which no permanent federal crop insurance program is available, including forage and grazing crops, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, bioenergy, and industrial crops.

Please contact the FSA office for your county to get a list of crops that have a NAP application closing date of September 1, 2015.

“NAP policies allow producers to protect their investment by purchasing coverage for noninsurable crops,” said CED Hall. “Natural disasters are an unavoidable part of farming and ranching and FSA programs like NAP help producers recover when they experience a loss.”

USDA has partnered with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois to create an online tool at that allows producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for federal crop insurance or NAP and to explore the best level of protection for their operation. NAP basic coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production, with higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price available, including coverage for organics and crops marketed directly to consumers. Crops intended for grazing are not eligible for additional NAP coverage.

Federal crop insurance coverage is sold and delivered solely through private insurance agents. Agent lists are available at all USDA Service Centers or at USDA’s online Agent Locator. Producers can use the USDA Cost Estimator, to predict insurance premium costs.

For more information on NAP, service fees, premiums and sales closing dates, contact the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc Counties FSA office at 207.753.9400, Ext 2 or the Oxford County FSA office at 207. 743.5789, Ext 2 and visit the web.

USDA Adds More Eligible Commodities for Farm Storage Facility Loans

New Provisions Increase On-Farm Storage for Dairy, Flowers, Meats

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2015 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program, which provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade storage facilities, will now include dairy, flowers and meats as eligible commodities.

“For 15 years, this program has provided affordable financing, allowing American farmers and ranchers to construct or expand storage on the farm,” said Dolcini. “By adding eligible commodities, these low-interest loans will help even more family farmers and ranchers to expand on-site storage.”

The new commodities eligible for facility loans include floriculture, hops, rye, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, meat and poultry (unprocessed), eggs, and aquaculture (excluding systems that maintain live animals through uptake and discharge of water). Commodities already eligible for the loans include corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, oats, peanuts, wheat, barley, minor oilseeds harvested as whole grain, pulse crops (lentils, chickpeas and dry peas), hay, honey, renewable biomass, and fruits, nuts and vegetables for cold storage facilities.

Since 2000, more than 35,000 facility loans have been approved totaling $2 billion in rural investments. On average, about 1,600 new loans are made each year. Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply. The loans are designed to assist a diverse range of farming operations, including small and mid-sized businesses, new farmers, operations supplying local food and farmers markets, non-traditional farm products, and underserved producers.

To learn more about the FSA Farm Storage Facility Loan, or contact a local FSA county office. Find your local FSA county office.

Mainers Urged to Sign Up for Free Disposal of Banned, Unusable Pesticides

This October, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) will team up with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help Mainers dispose of banned pesticides or unusable pesticides.

This free disposal program is open to homeowners, family-owned farms and greenhouses. Collection will occur at sites located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland. To qualify, people must register by September 25, 2015.

Governor Paul R. LePage is urging Mainers to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the environment and save money through this once a year collection event that highlights cooperation between government agencies. “This is an opportunity for Mainers to dispose of unusable pesticides properly and at no expense,” said Governor LePage. “Through consolidated collections at four central locations and the use of in-house resources and expertise, disposal costs are reduced to about $2 per pound. That’s a great value for Maine taxpayers which lowers costs and helps protect the environment.”

It’s not unusual for homes and farms to have unintentional hazardous waste—banned pesticides or pesticides that have become caked, frozen, or otherwise rendered unusable—sitting around in basements, garages, or barns. These chemicals can be difficult and expensive to dispose of; DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb stressed the importance of proper disposal of banned or unwanted pesticides.

“It’s important for the protection of public, wildlife, and environmental health that these products are dealt with properly and not thrown in the trash or down the drain, where they can contaminate land and water resources, including drinking water,” said Commissioner Whitcomb. “People holding these chemicals should contact the BPC as soon as possible to register for the October collection.”

“Providing Maine residents with an easy and no cost solution to properly dispose of pesticides gives Mainers the unique opportunity to make a positive impact on our environment and public health,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “The collection events cover the State and are held in Presque Isle, Bangor, Augusta and Portland, providing accessible methods of collection and future disposal.”

The collected chemicals go to out-of-state disposal facilities licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency where they are incinerated or reprocessed.

Registration by September 25, 2015, is mandatory—drop-ins are not permitted. To register, get details, and learn important information about the temporary storage and transportation of obsolete pesticides, go to the Maine Board of Pesticides Control website , or call 207.287.2731.

The Maine Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, jointly sponsored by the BPC and DEP, and paid for entirely through pesticide product registration fees, has kept more than 90 tons of pesticides out of the waste stream since its start in 1982.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

USDA Administrator to Meet With Maine Farmers About Local Impact of the 2014 Farm Bill

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini will visit with farmers in Maine on Friday, Aug. 21 to discuss the impact of implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill including commodity, conservation, disaster assistance and credit safety-net programs offered by FSA.

WHO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency (FSA), Don Todd, State Executive Director, Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA)

WHAT: FSA Administrator Dolcini will be in Maine and will tour Misty Brook Farm in Albion to assess the impact of implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Misty Brook Farm was hit by a microburst on July 28, 2015 and suffered tremendous damage. Adminsitrator Dolcini will tour the farm, assess the damage and discuss available FSA disaster assistance programs.

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

WHERE: Misty Brook Farm, 156 Bog Road, Albion, ME 04910

CONTACT: Mary Anne Coffin, Executive Administrative Assistant, USDA Farm Service Agency, 207.990.9140

NRCS Announces Conservation Programs Deadline and Extension

Extension to include Agricultural Management Assistance program

BANGOR, Maine (Aug. 4, 2015) — The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the application deadline dates for two of its conservation programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA). The Fiscal Year 2016 application deadline for EQIP is Aug. 14, 2015.  The Fiscal Year 2016 application deadline for AMA is extended to Sept. 15, 2015.

Agricultural producers and foresters are encouraged to sign up now for the EQIP, which provides financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities. The Fiscal Year 2016 funding consideration application deadline for most EQIP fund pool categories will be Aug. 14, 2015.  This does not include the EQIP National Water Quality Initiative and Conservation Innovation Grants.  These deadlines are yet to be determined.

More information.

Additional 2015 Crop Insurance Premium Discounts for Maine Producers

For the sixth consecutive year, the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced that Maine producers with buy-up crop insurance policies for the 2015 crop year will be eligible for an additional automatic premium reductions of up to $150 per crop policy through the Financial Assistance Program (FAP). If the producer paid premium per crop policy is less than $150, the amount of the assistance premium will be capped at 100 percent of the producer paid premium for the crop policy. Insurance policies not eligible for this benefit include catastrophic risk protection and Livestock Gross Margin insurance policies.

No additional application is necessary in order to qualify for the FAP and the premium reduction will automatically be applied to all eligible crop policies.

Additional information is available through your crop insurance agent, or by visiting the RMA web site. For more information on how crop insurance can help protect your business, visit the Cooperative Extension Risk Management and Crop Insurance Education website.

Maine Officials Prepare for Possible Avian Flu Outbreak

HPAI does not affect human health, but has decimated domestic poultry in other states leading to shortages and price increases.

AUGUSTA — Officials in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) are preparing for a possible avian flu outbreak and taking steps to alert the public on how to help prevent or minimize its impact on domestic poultry. The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus is of low risk to people, and there have been no reported human infections resulting from the current outbreak of HPAI in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it has decimated commercial chicken and turkey flocks in other states, causing supply disruptions and higher prices for consumers.

Read more.

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Classes at Gardiner Adult Education

Extension Educators, Mark Hutton, Renae Moran and David Handley have all signed on to teach classes this fall for Gardiner Adult Education.

David’s course will be Successful Berry Growing, held on four Tuesday evenings starting November 3 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Renae is teaching a course on Tree Fruit, and Mark is teaching a vegetable growing course.

Signup starts in a couple of weeks. More information.