Farm Scoop – May 2016

USDA Offers New Loans for Portable Farm Storage and Handling Equipment

Portable Equipment Can Help Producers, including Small-Scale and Local Farmers, Get Products to Market Quickly

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 2, 2016 — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide a new financing option to help farmers purchase portable storage and handling equipment. Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Elanor Starmer announced changes to the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program today during a local and regional food roundtable in Columbus, Ohio. The loans, which now include a smaller microloan option with lower down payments, are designed to help producers, including new, small and mid-sized producers, grow their businesses and markets.

“As more communities reconnect with agriculture, consumer demand is increasing for food produced locally or regionally,” said Dolcini. “Portable handling and storage equipment is vital to helping farmers get their products to market more quickly and better maintain product quality, bringing them greater returns. That’s why we’ve added this type of equipment as a new category for our Farm Storage Facility Loan program.”

The program also offers a new “microloan” option, which allows applicants seeking less than $50,000 to qualify for a reduced down payment of five percent and no requirement to provide three years of production history. Farms and ranches of all sizes are eligible. The microloan option is expected to be of particular benefit to smaller farms and ranches and specialty crop producers who may not have access to commercial storage or on-farm storage after harvest. These producers can invest in equipment like conveyers, scales or refrigeration units and trucks that can store commodities before delivering them to markets. Producers do not need to demonstrate the lack of commercial credit availability to apply. Read more here.

See USDA Farm Storage Facility Loan Program Fact Sheet (PDF).

Current interest rates for FSFL’s approved during May 2016:

  • 0.875 percent with 3-year loan terms
  • 1.250 percent with 5-year loan terms
  • 1.625 percent with 7-year loan terms
  • 1.750 percent with 10-year loan terms
  • 1.875 percent with 12-year loan terms

Organic Farming: Principles & Practices

Tuesday, May 24 and Wednesday, May 25 at MOFGA Education Center

Free for mofga apprentices! Registration Required.

Join Eric Sideman, Dave Colson, Diane Schivera, and Rick Kersbergen for a two-day introductory course to organic farming. Register online for either or both days, lunch will be provided.

Day one with Eric, organic crop specialist, and Dave, agricultural services director, will cover the fundamentals of organic vegetable farming. Eric and Dave will cover soils, pests and diseases, and weeds. Day two with Diane, organic livestock specialist, Rick Kersbergen, University of Maine Extension, and a panel of livestock farmers will cover the fundamentals of organic livestock husbandry, production systems, and pasture management.

Maine Sustainable Year-Round Agriculture Cluster Initiative: Design Open House in Gorham (USM) and Buxton (Little River Flower Farm)

Thursday, May 26 from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Farmers, as well as business innovators in the agriculture, renewable energy, cleantech, composites and related fields are encouraged to attend.

The two-part event will consist of a design roundtable at the 215 Bailey Hall at USM’s Gorham Campus, followed by a tour of a newly constructed ultra-efficient greenhouse at Little River Flower Farm in Buxton. The event marks the launch of an education and outreach series for the Sustainable Year-Round Agriculture Cluster Initiative that will consist of site visits, informational sessions and workshops for the general public, cleantech and agricultural innovators, and potential partners to the newly forming business cluster.

For more information, directions, and the event agenda, please visit the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society’s website or for questions please email.

USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program Results

More Than 800,000 Acres Selected Through Highly Competitive Application Rounds

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the enrollment of more than 800,000 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Through CRP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) helps farmers offset the costs of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and strengthen wildlife habitat. Farmers’ and ranchers’ participation in CRP continues to provide numerous benefits to our nation, including helping reduce emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and providing resiliency to future weather changes.

“The Conservation Reserve Program provides nearly $2 billion annually to land owners — dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs.  When these direct benefits are taken together with the resulting economic activity, the benefits related to CRP are estimated at $3.1 billion annually,” said Vilsack. “Over the past 30 years, CRP has created major environmental improvements throughout the countryside. The program has removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equal to removing nine million cars from the road annually, and prevented 600 million dump trucks of soil from erosion. With today’s announcement, USDA is continuing these achievements by maximizing conservation benefits within the limitations provided by law.”

To read more about the CRP results, download the news release (Word). To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit or contact a local FSA county office. Find your local FSA county office.