Farm Scoop – October 2016

Applications Sought for Northeast SARE Committees

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is a federal competitive grants program that supports projects aimed at enhancing the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of farming. SARE relies on a diverse group of individuals from across the agricultural community to provide leadership that will keep our program innovative and responsive. To that end we invite people to apply to serve on our Administrative Council and Technical Committee.

The Administrative Council (AC) is Northeast SARE’s leadership committee. A primary function for members is the review and evaluation of grant proposals, and members also provide input and advice to guide program or policy development. The AC has two multiday meetings each year, in February and July.

Currently we seek two farmer representatives to our AC, especially farmers with experience in aquaculture, grain production, or urban agriculture, although those with other agricultural experience will be considered.

We also seek an AC representative from an agricultural business that has farmers as primary clientele.  This could be someone from a fertilizer or seed company, a private crop consultant or veterinarian, custom applicator, farmers’ cooperative, or other agricultural related business.

Candidates must understand and support sustainable agriculture; they must have direct experience working with farmers; and they must appreciate the need for a range of approaches to research and education in order to serve different types of farmers and communities engaged in a wide range of activities. Candidates must also work in the Northeast region, which is made up of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

Technical Committee (TC) members from many fields of agriculture are also needed. SARE grant proposals cover a wide range of topics related to agriculture in the Northeast, and TC members review and thus help select the proposals that SARE funds. The TC does most of its work using conference calls and e-mail.

Travel and other expenses associated with participation in both the AC and TC are covered by SARE. For more information, see Northeast SARE.

Candidates for the AC should submit an application that includes: 1) a cover letter that describes why they wish to serve and what they would bring to the Northeast SARE program, 2) a brief resume or a couple paragraphs describing their relevant background and experience, and 3) a profile of the farm they operate or the business they work for. Send applications via e-mail by November 30, 2016 to Northeast SARE Coordinator Vern Grubinger. If you have questions about the nomination process or the duties, please call 802.656.0471.

Candidates for the TC should submit a description of their agriculturally-relevant experience, specific subject matter expertise, and their full contact information to Northeast SARE Program Manager, David Holm. He will contact each interested applicant with more information.

New AC members are elected by the current members of the Council. Northeast SARE often receives applications from many qualified candidates, and there is a limited number of AC seats that are available each year. Candidates not elected to the Administrative Council are invited to join the Technical Committee.

Northeast SARE does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, or marital status.

The Sales Closing Date for Buying Apple Crop Insurance for the 2017 Crop Year is November 21, 2016

Growers can choose to insure their crop at a catastrophic level which protects 50% of their crop yield and pays at 55% of the price election if there is a loss, or farmers can insure at higher levels called “buy-up” which protects 50 to 75% of their approved production history and up to 100% of the price election. The 2017 price election for fresh apples is $14.15 per bushel. Gone are the days of government post-hoc disaster payments. Farmers must now decide whether or not to buy crop insurance to protect their crops from multi-peril losses.

November 21, 2016 is the Final Sales Closing Date for Crop Insurance on Maine Lowbush Blueberries for the 2017 Crop Year

Growers can choose to insure their crop at a catastrophic level which protects 50% of their crop yield and pays at 55% of the price election if there is a loss, or at higher levels called “buy-up” which protects 50 to 75% of their approved production history and up to 100% of the price election.

The 2017 price elections are $0.53 per lb. and $0.85 per lb. for conventional and organic blueberries, respectively. Blueberry crop insurance is sold through private crop insurance agents (see link below). Gone are the days of post-hoc disaster payments from the government. Farmers must now decide whether or not to buy crop insurance to protect their crops from multi-peril losses.

Crop Insurance Agents Serving Maine can be found using the RMA Agent Locator at or contact Crop Insurance Education Program Manager, Erin Roche 207.949.2490

NIFA Announces Funding Available for Organic Agriculture Research, Education, and Extension Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced the availability of $17.6 million for research and outreach activities to support the organic agriculture sector. The grants are funded through NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

OREI funds high-priority research, education and extension projects that enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high-quality organic products. Eligible entities include Land-Grant and other research universities, federal agencies, national laboratories, state agricultural experiment stations, and research foundations and other private researchers.

Priority areas include biological, physical and social science research, including economics. Funded projects will aid farmers and ranchers with whole-farm planning by delivering practical research-based information and improve the ability for growers to develop the Organic System Plan required for certification.

OREI has eight legislatively-defined goals:

  • Facilitate the development and improvement of organic agriculture production, breeding, and processing methods;
  • Evaluate the potential economic benefits of organic agricultural production and methods to producers, processors and rural communities;
  • Explore international trade opportunities for organically grown and processed agricultural commodities;
  • Determine desirable traits for organic commodities;
  • Identify marketing and policy constraints on the expansion of organic agriculture;
  • Conduct advanced on-farm research and development into topic areas including production, marketing, food safety, socioeconomic conditions and farm business management;
  • Examine optimal conservation and environmental outcomes relating to organically-produced agricultural products; and
  • Develop new and improved seed varieties that are particularly suited for organic agriculture.

Applications are due by January 19, 2017. See the OREI request for applications for details.

A Drought Risk Management Tool: The Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Pilot Crop Insurance Program

Typically in Maine hay and forage are viewed as relatively “low-risk” crops but lack of rainfall this year resulting in poor hay yields and slow pasture regrowth leaves many wondering what could be done to manage drought in the future. One possible solution may be the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) Pilot crop insurance program. The PRF is a fairly new insurance option for Maine farmers, providing protection of pasture, hay, and hayland against a single peril, lack of precipitation.

Unlike other types of crop insurance, the PRF program is not based on a farmer’s historical crop yields. Rather the PRF program uses a rainfall index from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center as a proxy for the farmers’ production data. The PRF program is an area-based policy, meaning losses occur when the reported rainfall for a 2-month interval over the entire area (12 square mile grid) is below the 50 – year historical rainfall data. There is no claim paperwork to file and if an indemnity is owed, payments are mailed automatically. Farmers must submit an annual acreage report including intended use (pasture or hay) and the Farm Service Agency: Farm Number(s), Tract Number(s), and Field Number(s); and current Conservation Compliance (Form AD-1026) to their crop insurance agent. The PRF premium cost is federally subsidized from 51 to 59%.

PRF policies are purchased through private crop insurance agents. The enrollment deadline is November 15, 2016 for the 2017 insurance year.

More Information
This 2-minute You-Tube video from NOAA gives an overview of PRF.

The PRF Factsheet (PDF) from the Risk Management Agency has more information.

A list of agents serving Maine can be found using the RMA Agent Locator online or contact Crop Insurance Education Program Manager Erin Roche or 207.949.2490.

USDA Offers Assistance to Maine Farmers and Livestock Producers Impacted by Drought

Farm Service Agency Stands Ready to Assist Agricultural Producers Affected by the Drought

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Don Todd, reminds farmers and livestock producers of federal farm program benefits that may be available to help eligible producers recover from drought.

FSA offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers experiencing drought conditions or similar qualifying natural disasters. Available programs and loans include:

  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) — provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters (includes native grass for grazing). Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2016 crops.
  • Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) — provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county.
  • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) — provides emergency relief for losses due to feed or water shortages, disease, adverse weather, or other conditions, which are not adequately addressed by other disaster programs. ELAP provides assistance for losses resulting from the cost of transporting water to livestock due to an eligible drought. Producers can apply to receive ELAP assistance at local FSA service centers. For the 2016 program year, the application period will end on Nov. 1, 2016.
  • Emergency Loan Program — Available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low-interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought.
  • Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) — provides emergency funding for farmers to install water conservation measures during periods of severe drought to supply emergency water for livestock, including confined livestock and poultry and existing eligible irrigation systems serving orchards and vineyards.
  • Tree Assistance Program (TAP) — provides assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers for qualifying tree, shrub and vine losses due to natural disaster.
  • HayNet is an Internet-based Hay and Grazing Net Ad Service allowing farmers and livestock producers to share ‘Need Hay’ ads and ‘Have Hay’ ads online. Farmers also can use another feature to post advertisements for grazing land, specifically ads announcing the availability of grazing land or ads requesting a need for land to graze.

For more information on disaster assistance programs and loans visit or contact your local FSA Office. Find your local FSA county office.

FREE Sheep and Goat Parasitology Seminar

Saturday, October 22, 2016 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kennebec Valley Community College: Carter Hall, Fairfield, ME

  • Want to learn more about minimizing costs of worming?
  • Confused about Scrapie control?
  • Eager to learn how to get your flock or herd a “Clean” bill of health?
  • Want to meet a small ruminant vet, and ask them some questions?

Please join us for an informative workshop about internal parasites of sheep and goats, especially our worst enemy, the “barberpole worm” (Haemonchus contortus). Many producers have benefited by learning whether this parasite is in their flock, and new results will help producers change their pasture strategies to reduce losses due to parasitism in their sheep and goats. We will also give a “live” parasite egg count demonstration. We’ll present guidance about the current scrapie program, and the difference between ID tags and scrapie tags. This seminar will include the “how-to” aspects of parasite management and disease prevention: please bring your questions! This is a FREE seminar, however registration is necessary. Please RSVP to Melissa Libby or 207.581.2788.

Slow Money Maine Daylong Gathering

November 10, 2016
Hutchinson Center, Belfast, Maine
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Attention local food producers, eaters and investors! Slow Money Maine needs all of you to join us in making change and building a vibrant local food economy. We’re doing it in many ways that you may not know about and we welcome you to find your own form of involvement.

Slow Money Maine (SMM) is a network of anyone from Maine and our region, who is inspired to be part of pioneering partnerships to bring local healthy food to all of our communities.

Register online!

CSA Resources

MOFGA’s Farmer to Farmer Conference

November 4-6, 2016

The Farmer to Farmer Conference is known for its intimacy, in-depth treatment of topics, and amazing discussions. The conference is based on the idea that farmers learn best from their peers and other practitioners, and features prominent and accessible university faculty, extension educators, and other agricultural professionals.


Maine Food Means Business 2016 Summit

Providing key education, camaraderie, and professional development to members. The Maine Food Means Business Summit brings together Maine’s food producers, grocers, service providers and food industry experts.

On October 19th, Maine’s food business community will discuss business best practices and trends, connect with like minded colleagues and celebrate each other’s successes.

Summit Registration / View Agenda

Webinar — Targeted Sheep Grazing in Organic Dryland Systems

Fabian Menalled, Patrick Hatfield and Perry Miller of Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, will be presenting a webinar, Targeted Sheep Grazing in Organic Dryland Systems, onTuesday, October 11, at 2 p.m.

The webinar is free and open to the public, and advance registration is required. More information and to register.

About the Webinar

Organic production has become a major agricultural, economic, and cultural force, but heavy reliance on tillage hinders the long-term sustainability of such systems, particularly in a dryland environment. This limitation has prompted interest in developing reduced tillage practices that can be used successfully on organic farms. One approach is to develop integrated crop-livestock production systems that seek to replace tillage with targeted grazing to manage weeds and terminate cover crops. The presenters combined experimental plot studies with on-farm research to increase their knowledge on the environmental, management, and economic challenges facing integrated crop-sheep organic systems in Montana.

In this webinar, they will summarize their experience regarding agronomic and economic performance, weed management challenges, and animal husbandry of integrated crop-sheep organic system. While successful in reducing tillage intensity, perennial weed pressure continues to challenge the ability of organic farmers to adopt these systems. They will discuss alternative approaches to foster a successful adoption of conservation-tillage practices by organic farmers in dryland environments.

Upcoming Online Courses starting Nov 7: Berries, Grazing, Mushrooms, and more!

Join one of our upcoming online farming courses: Berry Production, Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer, Improved Grazing Management, Soil Health, and Woodland Mushroom Cultivation

The Cornell Small Farms Program offers over twenty courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. 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. Check out the listings online for more information on a particular course and the instructors.


Contact Erica Frenay, or Steve Gabriel, or call 607.255.2142


The Small Farms Program helps farmers get expert assistance to facilitate all phases of small farm business development, from initial growth to optimization to maturity. We are a joint effort of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

USDA Designates Cumberland County in Maine as a Primary Natural Disaster Area

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Cumberland County in Maine as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by a recent drought.

Farmers and ranchers in Androscoggin, Oxford, Sagadahoc and York counties in Maine also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Sep. 29, 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.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available in Maine

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations located in Maine as a result of the drought that began on Aug. 2, 2016.

This disaster declaration includes the following counties: Androscoggin, Cumberland, Oxford, Sagadahoc and York in Maine.

Under this declaration, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of this disaster. With the exception of aquaculture enterprises, SBA cannot provide disaster loans to agricultural producers, farmers, or ranchers. Nurseries are eligible to apply for economic injury disaster loans for losses caused by drought conditions.

The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an email to Loan applications can be downloaded from the SBA’s website. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Completed loan applications must be returned to SBA no later than May 30, 2017.

Farm Succession School comes to New England

Planning for farm succession can be challenging. The Farm Succession School is for senior farmers and farm couples looking for a bit of structure and motivation to tackle succession planning. Farmers will move from thinking about the future to doing active planning!

Program includes presentations, group discussions and individual exercises, with “assignments” between sessions. Topics include goal setting, estate planning, retirement planning, family communications, taxes, legal structure, Medicaid, and bringing on a successor. Participants will come away with a concrete “game plan” for their farm business, land, and retirement.

Three locations this year! 

It is a three-session program. Each session will be from 10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and includes lunch and refreshments. Open to farmers in all New England states.

Augusta, Maine: November 1, 2016; December 6, 2016; and January 24, 2017

Concord, New Hampshire: November 2, 2016; December 7, 2016; and January 25, 2017

Randolph, Vermont: November 3, 2016; December 8, 2016; and January 26, 2017

USDA Farmer Resource — A New Generation on the Land

The question of who farms tomorrow – and how they get access to good quality farmland – is one of the key challenges and opportunities for the farming and ranching community.

For farmers seeking land, it can feel like a daunting task to find the right space to make a farm business.  There are many pressures, including finding and affording the right land, competing in sometimes very competitive real estate markets, assessing how a business plan will work on a specific piece of land, and, importantly, engaging the community and environment around your farm.

For farmers who are preparing for what comes next as they retire, choose a new career, or decide how they want to pass forward their investments — the challenge can feel equally complex. Many farmers want to continue their investments in agriculture even as they leave the business — and feel passionately about helping give others the same opportunities to be a part of a farm or ranch, or to grow up and live in rural America as they have. Many are also looking for strategies to support a healthy, happy retirement, and want to be sure to leave a strong inheritance and legacy for their children.

No matter where you are in this discussion, USDA is here for you.

Maine Farms for the Future: Phase 1 — Business Plan Development Grant

The State of Maine is seeking proposals from eligible farms seeking to compete for the Maine Farms for the Future: Phase 1 — Business Plan Development grant.

A copy of the RFP can be obtained by contacting the RFP Coordinator: Lester Dancer. The RFP Coordinator can be reached at the following email address: or by

mailing: Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry – Attn: FFF Round 16 RFP, 28 State House Station, Augusta, Maine, 04333-0028

A Bidders Conference will be held on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM, local time, at the following location: Conference Room # 118 located in the Marquardt Building, 32 Blossom Lane, Augusta, ME, with a public entrance at Door D7.

Proposals must be submitted to the State of Maine Division of Purchases, located at the Burton M. Cross Office Building, 111 Sewall Street – 4th Floor, Augusta, ME 04330. Proposals must be submitted by 2:00 pm, local time, on Thursday, December 1, 2016, when they will be opened.

Proposals not received at the Division of Purchases’ aforementioned address by the aforementioned deadline will not be considered for contract award.

United Farmer Veterans of America

New Veterans to Agriculture Organization Invites YOU to Join us!

Homeless Vets! Job Training! Agri-Business Development! Vets helping Vets! Maine First!

Maine is one of the strongest local food and local agriculture states in the Country! It is time to join the largest Veteran based Agriculture organization in Maine started by Maine’s own veterans in Agriculture based on VETERANS helping VETERANS and a HAND UP not a HANDOUT! We need your support to make this organization stronger in Maine. If you are a veteran, if you Farm, or if you just want to support us as a PATRIOT member to make sure every single veteran in Maine that wants to farm or develop an Agri-business in Maine can — you need to join our team today!

Maine Vets Lead the Way!

The Maine Cheese Guild Presents Open Creamery Day 2016

Sunday, October 9th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As the hardwood foliage bursts in a blaze of colors on Columbus Day weekend, take in the spectacular sights and taste some award-winning cheese during the Maine Cheese Guild’s annual Open Creamery Day. Visit many of Maine’s cheese makers in their creameries, meet the animals, and learn the stories behind Maine’s more than 150 artisan cheeses. Along the way you can also visit a farmers’ market, stop at an orchard, explore one of Maine’s premier breweries or wineries, pick fruit at Maine’s legendary orchards, and drop-in on one of the many artisan bread makers our state has to offer. You’ll love the views, and the taste of Maine cheese, straight from the source, will be the best memory of all!

For a MAP and an updated list of participating cheesemakers, visit the Maine Cheese Guild website.