Farm Scoop – October 2015

Aroostook Organic Grain Grower/Buyer Summit

Wednesday, November 11, 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center, 116 Maine St., Presque Isle

The event is free; lunch will be provided.

Sponsored by the US Organic Grain Collaboration and Organic Trade Association.

The objectives for the day are to provide growers with an overview of organic and transitional grain markets, organic production practices and certification, USDA organic support services, and to facilitate matchmaking between growers and buyers.

Register by next Monday, November 2.

If you plan to spend the night either before or after this event, a special room rate is available of $79.00 per night and can be reserved by calling the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center at 207.764.3321. Use the booking code: Aroostook Organic Grain Promotion Day.

USDA Extends Deadline to Increase Protections for Forage Crop Losses

Bangor, ME, October 29, 2015 – USDA Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, SED Don Todd III announced that the deadline for producers to obtain or modify higher levels of coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) to protect against poor forage crop quality because of drought or other natural disasters where the forage is intended for mechanical harvest has been extended to November 13, 2015. More information can be found at NAP Extended Filing Date for Forage Buy-up Crops (Word).

USDA Offers Farm Loans for Targeted Underserved Groups

Bangor, ME, October 29, 2015 – 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 targeted underserved groups. “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 2015, Maine FSA obligated $4.47 million in direct and guaranteed loans to targeted underserved farmers. More information can be found at SDA News Release (Word).

2015 New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference

Start planning now! The program for the 2015 New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire is now available for download.

This year’s conference will be December 15, 16, and 17 at the Radisson Hotel. Online registration is coming soon.

Do you need pesticide recertification credits?

The deadline to accumulate credits is October 31, and now there is a way to get those credits without leaving home! The Potato Program team at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension has created nine online modules and exams that you can use to keep your pesticide applicator’s license current. Each 30-minute presentation may be viewed online and an exam taken shortly thereafter. You need to take and pass two tests for each MBPC credit. Taking and passing only one test will not provide any MBPC credits. For more information and a listing of the available presentations, please visit the Potato Program Team’s website.

2016 Crop Insurance Deadline and New Options for Blueberry Growers

The sales closing date for 2016 Maine lowbush blueberry crop insurance is November 20, 2015. Producers can choose to cover 50% to 75% of their average yield from multi-peril losses. The indemnity price will be $0.54 lb-1 for 2016.

Blueberry crop insurance is sold through private crop insurance agents. More information can be found on the Blueberry Deadline announcement (PDF).

2016 Crop Insurance Deadline and New Options for Apple Growers

The sales closing date for 2016 Maine apple crop insurance policies is November 20, 2015. Producers can choose to cover 50 to 75% of their average yield from multi-peril losses. The indemnity price for fresh apples will be $15.95 bu-1 for 2016.

Apple crop insurance is sold through private crop insurance agents. More information can be found on the Apple Deadline announcement (PDF).

New Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Pilot Insurance Program for Maine

The Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Pilot Insurance Program is new insurance option for Maine producers, providing protection of pasture, hay, and hayland against a single peril, drought. No historical production records are required. Losses are determined by comparing reported precipitation over a 2-month insured period to 50 years of historical rainfall data.

Both reported and historical rainfall data are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center (NOAA CPC).

The enrollment deadline is November 15, 2015 for the 2016 insurance year. PRF policies are purchased through private crop insurance agents. For more information visit the RMA PRF webpage.

Beyond the Field Edge
Farming and Maine’s Most Perennial Crop

Date: November 6, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

  • 8:30 – 11:30 AM: Indoor Presentations at Enterprise Grange Hall, 15 Alexander Reed Road, Richmond.
  • 12:30 – 3:00 PM: Field Tour at Tender Soles Farm, 453 Main Street, Richmond

No, it’s not rocks; it’s trees! We’ll examine how knowledge of soil characteristics can help guide where to farm and where to grow trees. We’ll also talk about what’s good to know about the woods on your farm, and where to get assistance to find out.

This event is free of charge; morning refreshments provided; lunch is provided by the Grange and sponsored by Maine Farmland Trust.

Dress appropriately for the field portion. Transportation to the field site from the classroom is up to participants; carpools may be organized. RSVP to the Kennebec Woodland Partnership. More information can be found on the Beyond the Field Edge flyer (PDF).

Seminar for Beginning Dairy, Livestock Farmers Offered in Freeport

FREEPORT, Maine — University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Wolfe’s Neck Farm are partnering with the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers to offer a seminar focused on business planning.

UMaine Extension professor Rick Kersbergen will facilitate the class geared for beginning pasture-based dairy and livestock farmers. The weekly course will be offered remotely at Wolfe’s Neck Farm, 184 Burnett Road, Freeport, noon to 2:15 p.m. from Nov. 12, 2015, until March 2016.

The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers is the host organization. Course fee is $300. For more information, to apply and to request a syllabus or disability accommodation, contact Kersbergen at 207.342.5971.

Harvest and Storage of Tree Fruits in Maine

By Renae Moran, UMaine Extension Tree Fruit Specialist

Prevention of fruit losses and maintaining optimum quality for customers depends largely on harvest timing and good storage conditions. Each type of fruit has special requirements, but general needs involve harvest at the right stage of maturity or ripeness and refrigeration to slow quality loss and prevent decay. A Guide to Harvest and Storage for Apple, Pear, Peach, and Plum will provide the necessary information for harvest and storage of tree fruits that are produced in Maine.

NEW Online Courses for Farmers

New offer for beginning farmer service providers: if you get 5 beginning farmers together to register for a Cornell Small Farms Program online course, we’ll offer a 25% ($50/per person) discount. This could be a great way to optimize your time and energy while strengthening the network of your local new farmers: rely on an existing program for content, while you provide a space to convene, and some facilitated discussion between webinars. See below for details on this Fall’s offerings, and let Erica know if you have questions.

Each 6-week course costs $200 normally ($150 with the group discount). Courses are instructor-led, with a real-time webinar featuring farmers, educators, researchers, and other ag professionals each week; and discussions, resources, and homework between webinars in an online “classroom.”

  • BF 101: Starting at Square One – Creating a Farm that Matches Your Values, Goals, Skills, and ResourcesOct 15 – Nov 19, with webinars every Thursday evening from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. This is a great survey course for people who are just exploring farming as a career. The webinars are heavy on farmer perspectives, and homework emphasizes early planning and decision-making tools to set a strong foundation for later developing a full business plan.
  • BF 110: Soil Health – Building the Farm from the Ground UpOct 15 – Nov 19, with webinars every Thursday evening from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Targeted to people already managing farmland, this course makes the case for prioritizing soil health and provides tools for developing farm-specific strategies for improving the health of the soil.
  • BF 130: Poultry Production – Profiting from Layers, Broilers, Turkeys, and DucksOct 7 – Nov 18, 2015, with webinars every Wednesday evening from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Many new farmers get started with poultry, because it’s a relatively low-investment enterprise with a fairly quick turnaround time from investment to revenue. The margins can be slim though, and you need all the skill you can acquire in order to produce a safe product and have a profitable enterprise. This course was designed to help.
  • *New this year!* BF 204: QuickBooks for FarmersOct 5 – Nov 9, with optional 7th session on Nov 16, and webinars every Monday evening from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. To make good decisions, farmers need good records to analyze. To get good records, well, QuickBooks is often the tool of choice. New users often find it intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be this way. Instructors Bonnie and Steve will provide ample opportunity for practicing using this software, as well as customized guidance on how to set up your food or farm business in QuickBooks.
  • BF 122: Berry Production – Getting Started with Production and Marketing Nov 10 – Dec 15, with webinars every Tuesday evening from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Berries are the crown jewels of the harvest, and can draw in new customers and help keep existing ones excited about your farm. But there’s a lot to know to do them profitably! This course blends practical farm knowledge with the latest academic research to get your berry-growing skills up to speed.
  • BF 150: Farm-Scale Mushroom Cultivation – Growing Shiitake and Other Mushrooms for Fun and Profit Sept 29 – Nov 3, with webinars every Tuesday evening from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. This is our only online course that comes with a tabletop spawn kit for hands-on experience with several types of mushrooms during the course! BF 150 trains new and experienced farmers in the background, techniques, and economics of farm-scale commercial mushroom production. Students will learn the basic biology of mushrooms, cultivation techniques for shiitake, oyster, lions mane, and stropharia mushrooms, proper conditions for fruiting, management needs, and harvesting and marketing mushrooms.

For Folks Interested in Poultry Production

Cornell is offering an online course in Poultry Production.  The course is titled “BF130: Poultry Production- Profiting from Layers, Broilers, Turkeys, and Ducks.”  This notice was just received and the course starts next week and runs from Oct 7 to Nov 18.  Webinars will be given each Wednesday (except Veteran’s Day) from 6:30-8:00 PM.  The cost for the entire course is $200 and those completing all requirements of the course (or other courses offered to beginning farmers) are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip.

Further information on signup can be found at the Cornell Small Farms Program website or by email at

Enrollment Deadline Extended for the 2016 Margin Protection Program

The deadline to enroll in the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) for 2016 has been extended to November 20, 2015.MPP-Dairy offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. For more information on MPP-Dairy please visit the FSA website, or your local FSA office.

New Publication #1048, Selling Beef in Maine

Are you a beef producer interested in learning more about the different markets available to you to sell your beef? This bulletin discusses the risks, benefits, and requirements for selling beef in Maine. Read more

Retail price: FREE DOWNLOAD; color printout $0.50 each / staff price: $0.30 each

Contact person:  Donna Coffin
Publisher: UMaine Extension

To order: email or call 207.581.3792.