Farm Scoop – August 2016

USDA Designates 8 Counties in New Hampshire as Primary Natural Disaster Areas with Assistance to Producers in Surrounding States

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated eight counties in New Hampshire as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by freeze and unseasonably warm temperatures that occurred from Feb. 1, 2016, through April 30, 2016. Those counties are: Belknap, Grafton, Merrimack, Strafford, Cheshire, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Sullivan.

Farmers and ranchers in Carroll and Coos counties in New Hampshire also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

  • Maine: York
  • Massachusetts: Essex, Franklin, Middlesex and Worcester
  • Vermont: Caledonia, Essex, Orange, Windham and Windsor

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Aug. 17, 2016, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online.

FSA news releases are available on FSA’s website via the “Newsroom” link.

Free Renewable Energy Workshop for Agricultural Producers and Rural Small Businesses

Join us for a workshop on Monday, September 12 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Unity Food Hub to learn how to access USDA Rural Development guaranteed loan or competitive grant funds for the purchase, installation, and construction of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects.

We will also have presentations on Solar Power and Wood Heating options for agriculture and business applications.

Speakers include:

  • Brian Wilson, Business and Cooperative Programs Specialist/State Energy Coordinator, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Ryan Hamilton, President ReVision  Heat
  • Sue Jones, President, Community Energy Partners

Full Agenda

For more information, and to set up a technical assistance appointment on September 12th after the workshop, contact Jennifer Brennan with GPCOG at 207.774.989.

Small Farm Online Courses

The Cornell Small Farms Program announces open registration for its 2016-2017 season of Small Farm Online Courses building the technical and business skills of farmers. Expert farmers and extension educators guide students through the latest research-based information to help improve efficiency and increase profit on small farms.

Students connect with other farmers, work on farm plans, and gain practical tips without leaving their home. Course content can be accessed anywhere with a high-speed internet connection.

Most courses are six weeks long. Each week features an evening webinar and follow-up readings, videos, and activities. Students and their instructors connect through online forums and live chat. If you aren’t able to attend the webinars in real-time, they are always recorded for later viewing.

Each course is $250, which entitles two people from a farm to attend. Discounts for early sign-up and multiple course sign-ups are available.

Qualify for a 0% interest loan! Participants who complete all requirements of one or more online courses are eligible to be endorsed for a 0% interest loan of up to $10,000 through Kiva Zip.

Check out the listings below for more information on a particular course and the instructors. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about registration, payment, and computer requirements.

MOFGA Journeyperson Applications due September 19

The MOFGA Journeyperson program provides hands-on support, training, and mentorship for people who are serious about pursuing careers in organic farming in Maine. MOFGA seeks to support new farmers who are committed to contributing to both the Maine food system and their local community.

MOFGA offers participants in the JP Program a 2-year package of support, including mentorship, technical support, free access to more than 52 educational workshops, an educational stipend, access to MOFGA Farm Beginnings, a whole-farm planning curriculum, discounts on seeds and supplies and assistance and support for land access and tenure issues through partnerships with Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good.

There are two application deadlines yearly. The first is September 19th and the second is January 16th. More information can be found at MOFGA Journeyperson Info 2016 (PDF)

USDA Announces Safety Net Assistance for Milk Producers Due to Tightening Dairy Margins

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced approximately $11.2 million in financial assistance to American dairy producers enrolled in the 2016 Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). The payment rate for May/June 2016 will be the largest since the program began in 2014. The narrowing margin between milk prices and the cost of feed triggered the payments, as provided for by the 2014 Farm Bill. The entire announcement can be downloaded at USDA Announces Safety Net Assistance for Milk Producers (Word).

Farm Storage Facility Loan Webinar — August 9

FSA Outreach is sponsoring a public webinar on the Farm Storage Facility Loan on Tuesday, August 9 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Toni Williams, FSFL Program Manager, will be presenting. Please forward this information to partner groups that may be interested. The registration link and a description of the webinar is below.

Need Commodity Storage? The Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) can help. The Farm Storage Facility Loan Program provides low-interest financing so producers can build or upgrade permanent or portable facilities to store commodities. Learn how this program may be able to help your operation.

Register online.

Aphids — Biotanical Control Formulations

When there are long periods without rain or when crops are grown in protected environments such as hoop houses or greenhouses, aphid populations may grow to huge numbers. A new ATTRA tipsheet: Aphids — Biotanical Control Formulations contains information on how to control them botanically.

Download the tipsheet for free.

SAVE THE DATE — Sodexo Informational Meetings in November

The University of Maine & the University of Maine System in partnership with Sodexo will be holding two informational sessions in early November for farmers and food processors on how to sell their products to the University of Maine System. More information can be found at Maine Course: Save the Date (PDF).