Farm Scoop – March 2016

Beginning Farmer Workshops — March, April, July 2016

Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District (Knox-Lincoln SWCD), in cooperation with Maine Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is presenting a series of workshops in March and April (mostly) to help farmers — aspiring, beginning (farming for fewer than 10 years), and those who may be transitioning to new products — learn about conservation practices and how to make them happen on your farm!

Workshop series will cover: growing in greenhouses (Mar 16); managing pests and organic certification (Mar 23); increasing productivity by controlling invasives and promoting pollinators (Apr 7); how to get the most out of your woodlands (Apr 15); soil fertility & nutrient management (Apr 22); and pasture & grazing management (Jul 30). We also offer an opportunity to prepare for and take the Agricultural Basic Pesticide Applicator License Exam (Apr 5). This license is required for all producers who sell more than $1000 in products for human consumption and use over-the-counter pest control products, including those certified for organic growers.

Information will be available at every session on USDA-NRCS Farm Bill cost-share programs that can help to get these practices on your ground. The workshops are supported by a grant from Maine NRCS and are presented in cooperation with Aldemere Farm, a program of Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

All workshops are free (except Pesticide Applicator Exam Training)require pre-registration, and are offered at convenient locations in Knox or Lincoln counties. Whenever possible and appropriate, each workshop will include a respected local farmer to answer questions from the grower’s perspective. All events include refreshments!

For more information or to register, contact Hildy at Knox-Lincoln SWCD: 207.596.2040, or go online.

2016 Farm Tractor Safety Course — April and May 2016

Participants will learn how to handle tractors and equipment safely, how to identify hazards, and how to minimize the chances of accidents. The course is open to all adults and youth interested, but priority will be given to youth ages 14 to 16. This course is required for 14 and 15 year olds who plan to operate farm equipment for hire on farms other than their own. A Federal Certificate of Training will be issued at the completion of the course after successful completion of the written test and driving course and with attendance requirements met.

  • Cumberland County: Tuesdays, May 3 to May 31, 2016
  • Kennebec County: Tuesdays, April 5 to May 3, 2016
  • Knox-Lincoln Counties: Wednesdays, April 6 to May 7, 2016
  • Waldo County: Mondays, April 11 to May 9, 2016

Information and registration can be found online.

With USDA Microloans, Your Farming Idea Is Closer than You Think

Access to reliable credit has been an important issue for farmers and ranchers long before President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Farm Loan Act back in 1916. In fact, even a century later, with all of the financial options available today, one of the biggest challenges to entering agriculture – or even growing an existing farming or ranching operation -– still can be the cost of land and equipment.

So if you operate a truck farm with direct marketing and sales, if your farm uses hydroponics, aquaponics, organic or vertical growing methods, if you work a smaller number of acres and do business with farmers markets, restaurants or community-supported agriculture businesses, perhaps a microloan is just what you need to make your business succeed and grow!

At FSA, we work each day to help farmers and ranchers achieve their own version of the American Dream of brighter days for their farms, their families and their future. To learn more about how microloans can help you, visit or contact your local FSA office. Find your local office.

FINE’s Farmer Survey

Farm to Institution New England is conducting a producer survey! Our goal is to learn more about how and when the institutional market is valuable for farm businesses and clarify the challenges and opportunities agricultural producers are likely to face in expanding or entering this market. We need your help getting 300 producers to fill out our survey — at least 50 from each of the six states in New England. All producers are invited to respond, even if they don’t currently sell to institutions. Are you a farmer yourself? Take the survey for a chance to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards. Do you know a farmer or two? Tell them about this survey!

Go to the survey.

Natural Resources Assessment — We Need Your help!

Maine Soil & Water Conservation Districts and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are conducting a Natural Resources Assessment (NRA) to help prioritize funding for state and local land and water management projects.

Go to the NRA survey. Although we hope you will take the survey online, Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties residents or landowners may receive a paper copy by contacting Androscoggin Valley SWCD at 753-9400 ext. 400, Please complete ASAP and no later than March 31, 2016.

Districts are holding local meetings for discussion. The Androscoggin and Sagadahoc meeting will be held: USDA Service Center 254 Goddard Road, Lewiston, ME 04240 To encourage participation, Androscoggin Valley SWCD will hold a drawing for THREE $50 CASH PRIZES for all residents or landowners who complete a survey and/or attend a meeting.

Contact your local district and find dates for your local meeting. or contact Jane Heikkinen or 207.753.9400 ext. 404.

Livestock 101 Field Day

Basic techniques needed for small-scale livestock producers, 4-H project leaders and older 4-H youth will be the topic at Livestock 101 Field Day on Saturday, April 2 from 11:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Witter Farm, University of Maine, Orono. This program will provide hands-on livestock methods for people just starting out or thinking about raising these animals.

Participants will learn basic techniques such as measuring livestock vital signs, body condition assessment, injection techniques, animal restraint, grain & feed quality assessment, sheep hoof trimming, growth curves, poultry handling, DIY poultry equipment, worming schedules and bio-security for the small farm.

Speakers include Dr. Gary Anderson, Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, Dr. Dave Marcinkowski & Donna Coffin from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Dr. Jim Weber from UMaine School of Food and Agriculture. Cindy Kilgore and Dr. Justin Bergeron from the Maine Department of Agriculture.

This program is sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of Maine J. Franklin Witter Center, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Pre-registration is required for this free program online. Or contact Melissa Libby, 134 Hitchner Hall, UMaine Extension, Orono, ME 04469-5735, 207.581.2788 in Maine 800.287.7170.

UMaine Extension programs are open and accessible to all in accordance with program goals. Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for this program should contact Melissa Libby 800.287.7071 to discuss their needs at least 14 days in advance.

Online Managed Grazing Tutorial Available

Free Interactive Lessons Can Help Land and Finances

Strategic livestock management can improve soil health, pastures, and profits.

A new online tutorial, “Managed Grazing Tutorial,” by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) goes in-depth into how changing the way grazing animals are managed can improve both the condition of your land and your bottom line.

It’s free and available on the NCAT ATTRA website.

The direct link to the tutorial is here.

USDA Offers Protections for Noninsured Crops Against Weather Losses

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers help to producers through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented plantings occur due to natural disasters.

Basic coverage fees are $250 per crop or $750 per producer per administrative county, whichever is less. No producer pays more than $1,875. In fact, for beginning, traditionally underserved, or limited resource producers, the catastrophic coverage is free, and premiums for higher levels of protection are discounted by 50 percent.

For spring planted crops in Maine, the deadline to apply is March 15, 2016. I encourage farmers of all types to visit an FSA office to learn more about the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. For more information, visit a local FSA office or Find your local FSA office.

2016-17 New England Vegetable Management Guide

This guide is intended to assist commercial vegetable producers by providing information on production techniques and pest management. Includes Northeast Vegetable & Strawberry Pest Identification Guide. This book is not recommended for home gardeners because it contains recommendations for restricted pesticide use. 298 pages. © 2016

Retail price: $30.00 each / staff price: $18.00 each
Publisher: UMass
To order: email or call 207.581.3792.