Farm Scoop – August 2017

MOFGA Farm Beginnings

This a farmer-led program to help guide those with a strong commitment to creating a sustainable farm business achieve their goals. Designed for farmers with at least one year of production experience, this series of intensive workshops will help you to develop a whole farm plan through realistic goal setting, reflection, and assessment of your resources, skills, and markets – and gives you the business planning tools necessary to successfully implement your plan. The course was originally developed to support participants in the MOFGA Journeyperson Program but enrollment is open to any farm looking to apply whole farm planning and financial management tools to their operation.

To apply please visit this link

2017-2018 Course Schedule

The 2017-2018 Farm Beginnings course will consist of 7 six-hour sessions, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Sundays from mid-October through early March, a number of shorter workshops at the January Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta, and a workshop with Julia Shanks, author of “The Farmers’ Office” in February. Each of the six-hour sessions is farmer-led and professionally facilitated with course material covered through a combination of classroom presentations, group discussions, guest speakers and panels, as well as guided readings and exercises.

This year the course will be offered in two locations: at MOFGA in Unity, and in Portland. Up to three of the sessions will take place jointly in Unity. The 2017-2018 schedule of dates and session topics can be found here.

The New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show – December 12, 13, and 14

At the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH and will include 32 educational sessions over 3 days, covering major vegetable, berry and tree fruit crops, as well as various special topics, such as hard cider and cut flower production. Popular ‘Farmer-to-Farmer’ information-sharing sessions after each morning and afternoon session bring speakers and farmers together for informal, in-depth discussions on timely issues of interest to growers. There will also be an extensive Trade Show with over 120 exhibitors that is open throughout the conference, a poster session featuring student researchers, and social mixers to help facilitate meeting fellow growers.

The featured speaker on the evening of the 12th will be Andrea Sylvian from the EPA, who will offer a worker protection standard (WPS) training.

Pre-registration to attend any part or all of the conference or trade show is $115 for the first member of the farm or business and $85 for each additional member (family or employee) when pre-registered with first member. The pre-registration fee for students (high school or college) is $50 each, when preregistered by the instructor. Pre-registration must be received by November 30, 2017. There is an additional fee of $30 per person ($20 students) for late registration or walk-ins.

Hotel registration is separate, but conference rates apply if you provide the code “NEVB17”. Additional information on the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference, including on-line and downloadable registration material, may be found at

The event is Sponsored by the New England Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Association and the Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association in conjunction with the Universities of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, as well as Cornell University, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station – in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Respirator Fit Tests: How To

New requirements under the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) mandate that all pesticide handlers, who are applying pesticides requiring the use of a respirator, have an OSHA approved respirator fit test. These tests include;

  • A medical evaluation and questionnaire
  • A check up with a physician if deemed necessary based on medical history
  • Training on the proper use of required respirators
  • Completing the test annually

Respirator fit tests can be conducted on-farm, however this involves purchasing specialized equipment and working with physicians on the medical evaluations. Many primary care physicians are unfamiliar with this test. Full information on test procedures can be found here. 3M also has information and instructional videos on how to do the test here.

A simplified method for obtaining a fit test for you and your handlers is to visit your local occupational health center. An internet search of “occupational health in Maine” should give you a number of options. Be sure to ask if the center offers respirator fit testing. When ready to do the testing, have a number of respirators with you as different respirator types are designed for different face shapes. Facial hair must be removed in order to use a tight-fitting face piece respirator. One alternative for those of us who are attached to our beards is to use a full faced powered air purifying respirator (PAPR).

Contact the Maine Board of Pesticide Control or your local Cooperative Extension Office for more information.

FDA Launches Food Safety Plan Builder to Help Businesses Comply with FSMA Requirements

To help businesses meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is releasing a new software tool to help owners and operators of food facilities create a food safety plan specific to their facilities.

The Food Safety Plan Builder (FSPB) is a free software application, developed by FDA,  that businesses can download from the FDA’s website to guide them, step-by-step, through the creation of a food safety plan, as required by  FSMA.

The user is taken through a series of sections (tabs) in the application that prompt the user to answer questions and/or fill in information specific to their business and facility. Once all the  tabs have been completed, the file may be saved or printed, and the firm will have a food safety plan to use in its operations and to provide when the FDA conducts an inspection.

While the Food Safety Plan Builder was primarily designed for use by small manufacturers, which may have limited resources, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Although manufacturers are not required to use the program, the FDA designed this program to help companies organize their food safety information and minimize the burden of creating their food safety plan.

To assist users, the FDA has also developed an overview video about the application, as well as individual videos that demonstrate how to navigate the various tabs.  These videos are posted on Youtube and may be accessed via the Food Safety Plan Builder webpage. The FDA has also provided a User Guide with individual chapters devoted to each tab. Manufacturers with questions about how to use the tool can access further assistance by contacting the FDA through the email address

The program and educational materials are modeled after the successful Food Defense Plan Builder, which was created to assist owners and operators of food facilities with developing personalized food defense plans for their facilities.

Additional Information:

Monday, August 21, 2017
Soil Health Field Day

5:00 – 7:30 at Bumbleroot Farm, 196 Highland Cliff Rd. Windham. We will be touring various summer cover crops and cover crops mixes, discussing and demonstrating cover crop management practices and implements, and discussing soil health measurements, including methods for testing and determining results.


  • 5:00 Welcome and Introductions
  • 5:10 Bumbleroot Farm Tour and Soil Health Management Strategies
  • 5:25 Summer Cover Crop and Cover Crop Mixes Field Tour
  • 5:50 Seeding Rate Calculations and Cost Comparisons
  • 6:00 Reduced Tillage Trials Overview
  • 6:15 Equipment Tour and Demos
  • 6:45 Soil Health Testing (Lab and in Field)
  • 7:15 More Equipment Demos (if time permits)
  • 7:30 Wrap-up

Click here for more information.

Apiculture Insurance Expanded to More States
Increased safety net available to beekeepers in 48 states.

Crop insurance for beekeeper operations has been expanded to include 19 additional states and now spans the entire 48 contiguous states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced changes to the Apiculture Pilot Insurance (API) plan, ensuring greater protection for the producers’ honey, pollen collection, wax, and breeding stock.

In addition to expanding API coverage, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors voted to replace the satellite-based Vegetation Index with the precipitation-based Rainfall Index for API policies. Available since 2009, API was developed through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private submitters to develop innovative insurance products to meet the needs of producers.

Producers have until Nov. 15, 2017 to enroll in API coverage for the 2018 crop year. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator.

Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

August 3, 2017 – Round-Table Meeting for Tunnel Tomato Growers, Researchers

As part of a Northeast SARE project focused on tomato production in high tunnels, we are going to hold a Farmer-to-Farmer Round-Table Discussion for experienced tunnel tomato growers, researchers, and Extension educators.  The meeting will take place on Thursday, August 3 at Johnny’s Selected Seeds at 184 Foss Hill Road, Albion, Maine, from 1:00 p.m. – around 3:00 pm.

This meeting is a part of a SARE research project looking at tomato production in high tunnels. The research project includes participants from MOFGA, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire and the University of Vermont.

The day will include a tour of the tomato trials at Johnny’s, an update of the research project, and a round table discussion of any and all the tomato growing issues growers raise. We know that summer is a hard time for you and us to leave our farms, but it is the only time to offer the opportunity to see how others grow. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 16, 12-1 p.m.
Organic Vegetable Cost of Production Project Webinar with Jen Miller, Farmer Services Coordinator, NOFA-VT

Over the course of the 2016 season, 30 organic farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts tracked their crop-specific costs of production using a newly developed cost of production workbook.  Results were analyzed at the individual farm level and also aggregated to provide production metrics on a per acre basis.  Join Jen Miller, NOFA-VT’s Farmer Services Coordinator, to dive into the NOFA cost of production workbook, examine crop-specific and farm-level results, and discuss best practices for farmers who want to do this analysis on their own farms.  We will conclude with a discussion of how farmers can use cost of production analysis as a tool to strategically increase the profitability of their farm businesses.


To see and register for upcoming webinars in this series, visit the Trainers Toolbox!

Wednesday, August 16, 12-1 p.m.
Aquaculture Risk Management Webinar

This will be an online webinar featuring information on the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) for aquaculture and the Whole Farm Revenue Protection crop insurance policy. Gary Moretti from Wild Ocean Aquaculture LLC and Peter Stocks from Trundy Point LLC will be providing their perspective on and experience with NAP. This webinar is hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Crop Insurance Education Program and the Farm Service Agency. Can’t make the webinar? Not a problem, it will be recorded and shared afterwards.

Please copy and paste this url into your web browser:

USDA and SCORE Launch Innovative Mentorship Effort to Support New Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. Today’s agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agri-business.

SCORE matches business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to mentor them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business. USDA and its partners across rural America are working with SCORE to support new farming and ranching operations, and identify and recruit mentors with a wealth of agricultural experience.

SCORE mentors will partner with USDA and a wide array of groups already hard at work serving new and beginning farmers and ranchers, such as the Future Farmers of America, 4-H, cooperative extension and land grant universities, nonprofits, legal aid groups, banks, technical and farm advisors. These partnerships will expand and integrate outreach and technical assistance between current and retired farmers and agri-business experts and new farmers.

This joint initiative leverages SCORE’s 10,000 existing volunteer mentors and USDA’s expertise and presence in agricultural communities to bring no-cost business mentoring to rural and agricultural entrepreneurs. This initiative will also be another tool to empower the work of many community-based organizations, cooperative extension and land grant universities, working with beginning farmers in their communities. SCORE mentorship will also be available to current farmers and ranchers. Anyone interested in being a mentor can get more information and sign up on the USDA New Farmers’ website at

Online Small Business Workshops 

Maine SBDC has workshops on a variety of small business topics. These workshops are free and provide information on starting your business,managing your finances and marketing your businessACCESS THE FULL LIST OF WORKSHOPS HERE…