Farm Scoop – November 2016

2016 Maine Food Network Gathering

Friday, December 2, 2016, 8:30 a.m.—4:00 p.m., Reception to follow. Wells Conference Center, University of Maine, Orono

This is the must-attend event for people working and engaged in Maine’s local food sectors.

Here’s a preview of the day:

  • Learn ways to increase consumer interest in local Maine food
  • Discover resources (some free!) for workforce development
  • Discuss strategies to ensure long-term viability of Maine’s fisheries
  • Explore career opportunities in Maine’s food system Local foods reception, live music and more!

Organizers anticipate a sold-out event. Early registration is encouraged. FMI: or email; $30 / Registration Deadline: Nov. 25

The 2016 Network Gathering is a project of GrowSmart Maine,, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Network of Community Food Councils, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension with event coordination provided by Maine Food Strategy.

Farm Service Agency Extends Voting Deadline for County Committee Elections

Maine Producers Now Have Until Dec. 13 to Submit Ballots

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, SED Donovan E. Todd, III, today announced that the deadline to submit ballots for the 2016 County Committee Elections has been extended to ensure farmers and ranchers have sufficient time to vote. Eligible voters now have until Dec. 13, 2016, to return ballots to their local FSA offices. Producers who have not received their ballot should pick one up at their local FSA office.

FSA has modified the ballot, making it easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 13, 2016. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2017.

Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the County Committee election. Approximately 1.5 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.

For more information, visit the FSA website. You may also contact your local USDA service center or FSA office. Find an FSA office near you.

NRCS seeks proposals for grants to improve conservation in Maine

Fiscal Year 2017 Conservation Innovation Grant program addresses natural resource concerns

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing the availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the local development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in Fiscal Year 2017 will be up to $250,000 in Maine.

Proposals are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations, or individuals, for competitive consideration of grant awards. Projects will be between one and three years in duration.

“Since 2012 we have funded more than $425,000 in CIG projects here in Maine,” NRCS-Maine State Conservationist Juan Hernandez said. “As in past years, we are seeking innovative projects and ideas that will positively influence conservation on private agricultural and forest lands. Our partners have developed some extraordinary concepts through these Conservation Innovation Grants that are impacting – and will continue to impact – the conservation of our precious natural resources.”

For Fiscal Year 2017, NRCS will consider offering CIGs in the following areas: Integrated Pest Management; Energy Efficiency; Soil Health; Wildlife; and Conservation Planning and Practices.

CIG will fund single and multi-year projects, with an anticipated project start date of July 1, 2017. Funds will be awarded through a competitive grants process, and the maximum award amount for any project will not exceed $75,000 in this fiscal year. Selected applicants may receive CIG grants of up to 50 percent of their total project cost, and recipients must provide non-Federal funding equal to the amount of Federal funds requested. Non-Federal funds must be derived from cash and/or in-kind sources.

Proposals must be sent electronically through In addition, proposals must be emailed to Chris Jones in PDF format. Proposals must be received by NRCS before 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Feb. 15, 2017.

For additional information visit the NRCS-Maine website or contact State CIG Program Manager Chris Jones at 207.990.9563.

Webinar on Grants and Incentives for Northeast Farmers

Join our webinar, Grant Funding for Northeast Agriculture, on Dec 07, 2016 at 11:00 AM EST.

Register here!

Grants are often appealing to beginning and established farmers alike. It’s tempting to go after “free money,” but grants aren’t always “free”- navigating the process can be challenging and many come with significant strings attached.

Join Nathan Rudgers, Director of Business Development at Farm Credit East, on December 7 as he talks about grants; why they exist, opportunities that are out there, how to apply for them and some of the issues to consider. The focus of this webinar is on grants and incentives for farms, rather than nonprofits or service providers.

Registration is free and open to the public.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

2016 Young Farmer’s Conference

December 7–8, 2016

This year, portions of the Stone Barns Center 2016 Young Farmers Conference will be livestreamed!  We are very excited — this is a great opportunity to expand the reach of the conference.

To watch workshops online, visit on December 7 and 8.

Androscoggin/Sagadahoc/Oxford County FSA is Accepting Emergency Conservation Program Applications

Androscoggin/Sagadahoc/Oxford County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Marcia Hall announced that Androscoggin/Sagadahoc and Oxford counties are approved to accept applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages from this season’s drought. ECP sign-up will begin on November 15, 2016, and end on December 15, 2016.

According to CED Hall, approved ECP practices under this authorization include wells, pipelines, and watering facilities for livestock.

ECP is administered by FSA to assist producers with the cost of recovery activities required to restore the agricultural land to pre-disaster conditions. Producers who sustained damage from this disaster event are encouraged to submit their request for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work. Submitting a request after completing qualified reconstructive work may result in forfeiture of program eligibility.

FSA County Committees will complete an evaluation of submitted requests and obligate available funds based on an on-site inspection of the damaged land, taking into consideration the type and extent of the eligible damage. Completion of the on-site inspection does not guarantee that cost-share funding will be allocated.

For more information on ECP, please contact the Androscoggin/Sagadahoc County FSA office at 207.753.9400, Ext 2 or the Oxford County FSA Office at 207.743.5789.

Maine Soil Health Workshop

Friday, December 9th, 8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Spectacular Event Center, Bangor

Pre-registration is required.

Cost is $20 before December 2nd; otherwise $25.

Includes morning snack and lunch.Registrations received after December 2nd cannot be guaranteed a lunch.

Register and Pay Online or, to register by phone and for registration questions, contact Michele Lodgek at 207.581.2721.

Topics and speakers:

  • Reduced Tillage and No-Till Strategies in Mixed Vegetables, Silage Corn, and following Potatoes (Paul Thomas, Thomas Farm, Corinth; Sam Wright, Cavendish AgriServices; Mark Hutchinson, John Jemison, and Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension)
  • Soil Health Tests — What do they mean and what do you do about it? (Bruce Hoskins, UMaine Soil Testing Service; John Jemison, UMaine Extension, and Will Brinton, Woods End Lab
  • Maine Soil Health Teams
  • Cover Crop Opportunities and Management (Eero Ruuttila, Johnny’s Selected Seeds; Ellen Mallory and Jason Lilley, UMaine Extension)

For questions about the conference, contact Ellen Mallory or 207.581.2942.

“Long Live the Farmer: Diversity & Biodiversity” — The 35th Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 2017 Winter Conference

Event also encompasses first-ever Northeast Organic Seed Conference

For the first time in its 35-year history, the Northeast Organic Faming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) adds a significant new dimension to its 2017 Organic Farming & Gardening Winter Conference, Long Live the Farmer: Diversity & Biodiversity. From January 20-22, this year’s event features a “conference within a conference”: the first Northeast Organic Seed Conference: Owning Our Own Seed.

With this dynamic group of seed professionals, the three-day Winter Conference expands its breadth and depth, hosting 100+ workshops in 17 special interest tracks. Tying the two conferences together is the eminent CR Lawn, keynote speaker and founder of Fedco Seedsa hybrid consumer/worker farm and garden products cooperative. Drawing on a lifetime of knowledge and experience, Lawn’s discussion focuses on creating an ethical, sustainable seed system and sharing strategies for overcoming obstacles.

A children’s conference with hands-on activities is available for attendees’ children ages 5-12. Pre-registration is required. Fees are $130 for the full children’s conference or $55/day.

Online registration and more information can be found at, or by calling the NOFA-NY office 585.271.1979. Full conference registration is available ($285) or pro-rated for full- and half-day intensive sessions. NOFA-NY members receive a 10% registration discount. The Early Bird deadline is Tuesday, December 13 for a $10 discount. Pre-registration closes Friday, January 15, 2017. Walk-ins are welcome.

A 20% student discount may be awarded to groups of three or more students; those interested should contact585.271.1979. (Not subject to Early Bird Discount, and valid Student ID required.)  A limited number of scholarships also are available. All applications must be received by 11:59 pm on December 2, with awardees notified December 9.

Registration fees include breakfasts and lunches, all workshops (including the seed conference), trade show, keynote addresses, meetings, and all other scheduled activities.  The Saratoga Hilton and City Center is located at 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Financial and Legal Workshop Series for Farmers

The purpose of this series is to equip individuals, couples, and families currently farming (as well as those seeking to farm) with information on topics that can seem complex and sometimes out of reach.

Farm Ownership, Transition and Mixer

November 30th, 2016
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: CEI, 30 Federal Street, Brunswick

Risk Management Tools for Farmers

December 7th, 2016
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth

Farm Structure, Taxes, and Financial Opportunities

December 14th, 2016
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: Shaw Brothers, 341 Mosther Road, Gorham

Regulations Related to Your Farmer Operation

January 4th, 2017
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Location: UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth

Fee: $10 per session or $30 for all four. For more information and to register. To be placed on the AG workshop interest list, email

The Farm Bill Process

The Farm Bill is renewed about every five years and includes income supports for farmers, conservation, nutrition, research, agricultural education, rural development, crop insurance, and many other agricultural topics.

The next Farm Bill is expected to be reauthorized in 2018. This document describes the process and invites input. Farm Bill (PDF).

Farm Survey — Online Business Applications

Cabbige and UNH Extension are conducting a 2-minute survey to determine farmers’ needs for apps that help farms with pricing, inventory management, inventory forecasting, and sales analysis and need your help! Do you have ideas for the types of applications and tools farmers need? Take this 2-minute survey and let us know.

USDA Announces Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2017

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that producers on farms with base acres under the safety net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, can begin visiting FSA county offices starting Nov. 1, 2016, to sign contracts and enroll for the 2017 crop year. The enrollment period will continue until Aug. 1, 2017.

If a farm is not enrolled during the 2017 enrollment period, the producers on that farm will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2017 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in 2015 must still enroll during the 2017 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity. For more details regarding these programs, go to

USDA Expands Working-Lands Conservation Opportunities through CRP

Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer a new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations. Small livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing dairy cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 200,000 acres.

Taylor also announced that the current CRP Grassland ranking period will end on Nov. 10, 2016. To date, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has received nearly 5,000 offers covering over 1 million acres for this CRP working-lands conservation program. These offers are predominantly larger acreage ranchland in Western states.

The new practice for small-scale livestock grazers aims, in part, to encourage greater diversity geographically and in types of livestock operation. This opportunity will close on Dec. 16, 2016. Offers selected this fiscal year will be enrolled into CRP Grasslands beginning Oct. 1, 2017.

Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g. grazing or producing hay), while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize conversion of grasslands either to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent to fund cover or practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife.

USDA will select offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers for the second ranking period also will be considered from producers who submitted offers for the first ranking period but were not accepted, as well as from new offers submitted through Dec. 16.

Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. Find your local FSA office. To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs.

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 or contact Crop Insurance Education Program Manager, Erin Roche 207.949.2490.

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 Invests $1.7 Billion to Protect Sensitive Agricultural Lands through Conservation Reserve Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue nearly $1.7 billion in payments to more than half of a million Americans who have contracts with the government to protect sensitive agricultural lands. The investment, part of the voluntary USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), will allow producers to protect almost 24 million acres of wetlands, grasslands and wildlife habitat in 2016.

CRP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who remove environmentally sensitive land from production to be planted with certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and increase wildlife habitat. In return for enrolling in CRP, USDA, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

More than 1.3 million acres were newly enrolled in CRP in fiscal year 2016 using the continuous enrollment authority, triple the pace of the previous year. In fiscal year 2016, FSA also accepted 411,000 acres through its general enrollment authority, plus 101,000 acres in the new CRP-Grasslands program, which balances conservation with working lands. More than 70 percent of the acres enrolled in CRP-Grasslands are diverse native grasslands under threat of conversion, with more than 97 percent of the acres having a new, veteran or underserved farmer or rancher as a primary producer.

For more information about CRP, contact your local FSA office. Visit or follow Twitter at #CRPis30 for program anniversary background and success stories. Locate your local FSA office.

NEW AgriTourism Video

Agritourism: Prepare and Plan for Guests on Your Farm

Bringing visitors to the farm can be a great way for farmers to add income, but it comes with additional responsibilities.

Protecting the safety and health of farm visitors is essential to providing a great experience and protecting your assets. Learn how to plan and prepare for hosting visitors to your farm whether it’s to enjoy a corn maze, apple orchard, pumpkin patch, petting zoo or any other activity you might think of!