Farm Scoop – April 2016

Grower Resources — Agritourism

Agritourism is a great way to get the public onto your farm and into your farm stand. This marketing practice gives the public an opportunity to better understand where their food comes from and to see the hard work that goes into the food that you produce by getting them into your fields or up close with your livestock. While there are several benefits to incorporating agritourism into your farm model, there are several health, safety, liability, and sometimes regulatory concerns to be aware of. Below is a list of resources for navigating these concerns. More information and additional resources can be found online.

Open Farm Day

Date: Sunday, July 24, 2016!

We are looking forward to this opportunity to promote Maine’s diverse agricultural community.

Open Farm Day is the perfect way to connect with neighbors, your town, interested visitors, and tourists and teach them about how their food and fiber is produced. Many who attend bring children to learn and connect with local farms. If you would like to participate, please sign up online and complete the online form. Please mail or email a copy of your Certificate of Insurance, to:

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry
ATTN: Open Farm Day
28 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0028
Or Fax: 207.287.7548


The completed form and certificate of insurance must be received NO LATER than Tuesday, May 24. If we do not receive your materials by this date, your farm will not be listed in the promotional materials used to showcase this event. Farms that do not provide a Certificate of Insurance are not eligible to participate.

USDA Expands Safety-Net for Dairy Operations Adding Next-Generation Family Members

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that dairy farms participating in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) can now update their production history when an eligible family member joins the operation. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, protects participating dairy producers when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below levels of protection selected by the applicant.

For $100 a year, dairy producers can receive basic catastrophic protection that covers 90 percent of milk production at a $4 margin coverage level. For additional premiums, operations can protect 25 to 90 percent of production history with margin coverage levels from $4.50 to $8, in 50 cent increments. Annual enrollment in the program is required in order to receive margin protection. The final rule also provides improved risk protection for dairy farmers that pay premiums to buy-up higher levels of coverage by clarifying that 90 percent of production is covered below the $4 level even if a lower percentage was selected above the $4 margin. For more information, visit

For more information, visit FSA online or stop by a local FSA office and ask about the Margin Protection Program. Find a local FSA office in your area.

Spring Cover Crop Walk

Date: April 26
Time: 1:00 PM
Host Farm: Stonyvale Farm, Fogler Family

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be hosting a cover crop walk in Exeter on April 26th starting at 1:00.  Stonyvale Farm has been using cover crops for years, and has been experimenting with various tools and techniques to establish effective cover crops and improve soil health. Come join us as we walk some fields and evaluate the effectiveness of some of their experiments to improve the sustainability of their cropping systems.

The field day will start at the Exeter Town office at 1:00 PM and participants will carpool to various fields where we have pits dug to look at rooting depth and soil qualities. The Exeter Town Office is located at 1220 Stetson Rd, Exeter.

2016 is the International year of soil! Come learn how soil cover cropping practices and crop rotations can improve soil quality!

For more information and directions, contact Rick Kersbergen or at 207.342.5971

Webinar: Agritourism: The Next Frontier in Agriculture

Date: Monday, April 18, 2016
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM, CST


Agritourism can be a great way to add supplemental income to your farm but it does come with an additional set of responsibilities. If you are currently running an agritourism operation or are thinking about making this an addition to your farm, you should become familiar with the Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings. Following the guidelines outlined in the Compendium will help you make your farm as safe as possible for visitors and protect your assets. Register online.

Free Workshop for Farmers: Managing Nutrients & Improving Soil Health

Date: April 22
Time: 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM
Location: Whitefield Fire Station, 24 Town House Road

FMI and to Register:; 207.596.2040;

8:30-11:00 Nutrient Management
Mark Hedrich (DACF) will focus on best management practices for reducing non-point and point source pollution from agricultural nutrients, including stored manure and compost, and Candi Gilpatric (NRCS) will have a discussion of storage structures and calculations for determining volume. Mike Bahner (Bahner Farm, Belmont) will join presenters for Q&A panel

Noon-2:30 Determining & Maintaining Soil Health
After lunch, Woods End Lab will discuss the underlying biological activity of your soil: how to test for it, enhance it, and what it means for crop productivity. Peter Abello will demonstrate soil tests you can perform to determine soil physical properties and Rob Johanson will discuss the benefits of low till and cover- cropping practices for soil health. Ben Marcus (Sheepscot General Farm, Whitefield) will join presenters for Q&A panel.

Morning refreshments, beverages & chips, fruit, cookies provided. Bring lunch.

Beginning Farmer Workshop Series offered by Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District in partnership with Erickson Fields Preserve/Aldemere Farm and supported by a grant from Natural Resources Conservation Service.

No-Till Corn Planter Clinic

Date: April 22
Time: 10:00 AM to Noon
Location: Hewett’s Farm, 678 East River Road, Skowhegan, Maine

With many Maine dairy farmers reaping the environmental and economic benefits of switching to no-till corn planting, it is critical that the necessary equipment be properly maintained and adjusted, according to a news release from the extension.

Rico Balzano, an agronomy specialist with the University of Vermont Cooperative Extension and member of the Champlain Valley Crops Team, will lead the meeting.

No-till corn production provides several benefits to farms, including time and nutrient management, which contribute to overall cost savings and improved profitability, according to the release.

The workshop is free, and registration is not required. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call the UMaine Extension Waldo County office, at 207.342.5971. The clinic is offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Maine Farmlink Mixer

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2016
Time: 10:00 – 12:00
Location: Unity Farm Hub, 69 School Street, Unity, Maine

Farmland Owners:  This is an opportunity for you to promote your farming opportunity (be it a sale, lease or other non-traditional arrangement) and connect with land seekers that are looking for a piece of ground to grow on.

Farmland Seekers:  This is a chance for you to meet face-to-face with land owners that are ready to give you a chance to develop your farm dream on their land.

Here’s a sneak peek at the day’s activities:

  • Registration
  • Speed Linking Activity: think “speed dating” applied to land linking (rather than finding a love connection)
  • Mingling and Refreshments: a chance for you to strengthen the connections and relationships that you have made during the afternoon, in a relaxed setting, and enjoy some light refreshments.

It is sure to be a good time!

Pre-registration: Please RSVP to Sue by Thursday, April 21 to register for the mixer by sending an email to OR calling 207.338.6575

Mangalitsa Hog Slaughter, Butcher & Processing Workshop

Dates: Friday, April 29 – Sunday, May 1
Location: Old Crow Ranch, 427 Davis Road, Durham, Maine

Join us at Old Crow Ranch for this popular workshop presented by Andy Lindberg of MeatME and Nate “Iggy” Brimmer of Giant’s Belly Education. They’ll provide three days of informative, hands-on instruction in traditional slaughter, butchering and processing, while Sean Emmons and Jake Anderson regale your senses with all manner of porky preparations from the kitchen. Register online.

Armed to Farm

Dates: June 6-10, 2016
Fayetteville, Arkansas

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is now accepting applications from military veterans who want to attend our week-long Armed to Farm (ATF) Training. ATF gives veterans and their spouses an opportunity to see sustainable, profitable small-scale farming enterprises and examine farming as a viable career.

ATF will be a dynamic blend of farm tours and hands-on experience with classroom instruction. Participants will learn about business planning, budgeting, recordkeeping, marketing, livestock production, fruit and vegetable production, and more. Participants will leave the training with a strong foundation in the basic principles of operating a sustainable farming enterprise.

NCAT Sustainable Agriculture specialists will teach the training sessions. Additional contributors will include staff from USDA Agencies, plus experienced crop and livestock producers.

Applications are available online.

Participants will attend classroom sessions on the University of Arkansas campus. Hands-on instruction will take place at several area farms.

The number of participants will be limited. Applications are due April 29, and selected participants will be notified no later than May 6. Spouses are encouraged to apply as well because running a farm will impact their lives even if they are not directly involved.

The event is free for those chosen to attend; lodging, transportation to local farms, and most meals will be provided. Participants must pay their own travel costs to and from the event.

USDA Launches First-Ever Local Foods Survey — Study will Provide New Data on Locally Grown and Sold Foods

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey as part of its continued support of local and regional food systems. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is conducting this first-time survey to produce official benchmark data on the local food sector in the United States.

The Local Food Marketing Practices Survey will ask producers for information on their production and local marketing of foods during the 2015 calendar year. Information includes the value of food sales by marketing channel (i.e. farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements, restaurants, roadside stands, food hubs, and more), value of crop and livestock sales, marketing practices, expenses, Federal farm program participation, and more.

Producers who receive the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey from NASS are strongly encouraged to respond. Farmers and ranchers can fill out the survey online via a secure website,, or return their form by mail.

For more information about the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey, visit

The Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey was mailed to a random sample of producers that grow and sell foods locally. Response to the survey is vital as the information gathered will be used to account for all farmers involved in the local and regional food system. NASS is also preparing for the 2017 Census of Agriculture, a complete count once every five years of all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. If a producer did not receive the last Census of Agriculture in 2012, they are encouraged to sign up online.