Farmscoop – October 2017

Rural Energy for America Program

This is a FINAL reminder that the next Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant application competition deadline is now just two weeks away. Applications for the first competition of fiscal year 2018 must be received by the close of business (4:30 p.m.) on October 31, 2017. A few things to remember:

  • Eligible applicants are small businesses (SBA definition) in rural areas of Maine (almost everywhere except Portland and immediately surrounding areas) as well as agricultural producers anywhere in Maine.
  • Applications are accepted for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.
  • The upcoming competition is for grant requests of $20,000 and less.
  • If you want application materials please let us know – we will email you everything you need!
  • We need only one hard copy original of the application and supporting materials.
  • No emailed applications will be accepted.

The application materials can be submitted to Cheryl Pelletier 207.764.4157, at the Presque Isle Area Office or to Brian Wilson 207.990.9125, at the Bangor State Office. No other locations can receive applications.

Make sure we receive the application (not just post-marked) by 4:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 31st. If an application is received after that time it will be held for competition in the next round (spring of 2018).

If you intend to submit an application and your project will involve ground disturbance, get in touch with us immediately so we can initiate the environmental review process. Our environmental regulations changed effective April 1st of last year, so we want to be sure to get a jump on any possible issues that could delay or stop your project from being funded.


Pasture, Rangeland & Forage Crop Ins Deadline – November 15, 2017 is the Sales Closing Date

Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) crop insurance protects grazing or haying acres against a single peril – lack of precipitation. Producers must enroll with a licensed crop insurance agent before the November 15 deadline for 2018 coverage.

How precipitation is measured

Unlike other types of crop insurance, PRF is not based on a farmer’s historical crop yields. Rather PRF uses precipitation data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a proxy for the farmers’ production data. The program uses a grid system of approximately 17 x 17 miles to track precipitation levels. Find your grid at www.prodwebnlb.rma.usda.gov/apps/prf. The PRF program is an area-based policy meaning coverage is based on the experience of the entire grid and not the experience of individual farms or specific weather stations in the general area. Losses occur when the reported NOAA precipitation for a 2-month interval is below a chosen percentage of the 50-year historical rainfall average for the grid. There is no claim paperwork to file and if an indemnity is owed, payments are mailed automatically.

What to insure

Grazing or hay acreage: Producers choose to insure “grazing” or “haying” acres.

Months: Producers choose which months to insure but must choose a minimum of 2, two-month intervals.

Coverage levels: Producers select a coverage level from 70 to 90%. “Coverage level” refers to the percentage of average precipitation that triggers a payment. For example, a producer selects the 90% coverage level. At this level, if precipitation in their grid is below 90% of the average precipitation, they receive an automatic indemnity payment. The value of the indemnity payment depends on the productivity level selected. Producers must select productivity levels that are 60 to 150% of the “base value.” Base values will change based on county. For example, in Penobscot county the “grazing” base value is $66.20 per acre. The “haying” base value is $180 and $244 per acre for conventional and organic hay, respectively.

To learn more about PRF crop insurance view the following fact sheet: www.rma.usda.gov/pubs/rme/prfinsprog.pdf.

Locate a crop insurance agent at: prodwebnlb.rma.usda.gov/apps/AgentLocator/#/.


Emera Maine Logging & Farming Safety

Recently, Emera Maine has experienced a number of incidents with logging and farming machinery coming close to or having contact with power lines. Situations like these can potentially have tragic consequences. There is nothing more important to us than sending our employees home safe and well each and every day. We are reaching out with information to help those in the logging and farming industry do the same.

Operating any type of equipment that encroaches upon power lines can potentially risk the safety of the operator and others nearby. Fortunately there were no injuries associated with the recent events we’ve experienced. However, extensive damage to machinery and power outages did result from these incidents. In some cases, power outages affected local businesses, schools, and emergency services. Expenses were also incurred from the time and effort Emera Maine needed to determine the cause of the outage and re-establish power.

Our Safety Around Power Lines guide includes important information for logging, farming, or any activity that has the possibility of coming near or contacting power lines. Some key things to remember are:

  • Stay clear of lines. The very best practice is to avoid power lines altogether, including parking, loading, or storing any equipment under our power lines.
  • Look up! When working around power lines, signs to remind workers of overhead lines can save a life.
  • Maintain a distance of 20 feet. Ensure no part of any vehicle, equipment, or person is operating within 20 feet of power lines. For work that requires closer proximity, please refer to OSHA rules and the Maine Overhead High Voltage Safety Act.
  • No line is safe to touch. Trees, limbs, and equipment can all conduct electricity. You cannot tell if a line is energized simply by looking at it.

In cases where work distances are needed that are closer than outlined by OSHA and Maine State rules, notify Emera Maine a minimum of 72 hours in advance so we can evaluate and implement the needed safety arrangements. If a limb, tree, or equipment comes in contact with or brings down a line, even if something just brushes the lines, contact Emera Maine immediately. For all life-threatening or emergency situations, contact emergency services before calling Emera Maine.

Should you have any questions about operating safely around electrical lines, please call our Customer Contact Center at 1-855-EMERA-11 (1.855.363.7211) or 207.973.2000.


November 20, 2017 is the Sales Closing Date for Wild Blueberry Crop Insurance

Blueberry crop insurance protects a producer’s average crop yields from weather-related issues causing yield loss. Producers can choose to insure their blueberry crop at a catastrophic level (CAT) which protects 50% of their crop yield and pays at 55% of the price election at a loss; or, at higher coverage levels called “buy-up” which protects 50 to 75% of their average yield at 100% of the price election. The 2018 price elections are $0.40 per lb. ($0.22 for CAT) and $0.66 per lb. ($0.37 for CAT) for conventional and organic blueberries, respectively. Price elections are set by the USDA Risk Management Agency and are based on National Agricultural Service Statistic (NASS) prices from prior years. The USDA Blueberry Crop Insurance fact sheet can be found at http://www.rma.usda.gov/fields/nc_rso/2018/2018meblueberry.pdf.


Do Your Growers Need Pesticide Credits?

Here is a link for online tests for credits:

https://extension.umaine.edu/potatoes/recertification-credits/maine-board-of-pesticides-control/


Maine Poultry Growers Association, First Annual Conference

Date: October 21st, 2017.
Time: 9am-4pm.
Location: Student Union Room, Alfond Campus, Kennebec Valley Community College, Hinkley, ME
Registration: Online, $35/person ($25 for MPGA Members) *lunch included
Sponsored by: University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (MOFGA), and Poulin Grain.
Contacts: Jason Lilley and Diane Schivera

Agenda

  • 9:00 Registration
  • 9:30 – 10:20 Recognizing and Managing Parasites in Laying Flocks
  • 10:30 – 12:00 Addressing Flock Health Throughout the Production Cycles, Addressing Feed and Supplementation for Maximizing Production
  • 12:00 – 1:00 Lunch and Announcements
  • 1:00 – 2:30 Troubleshooting Flock Maintenance Issues: Case Studies
  • 2:45 – 3:45 Report on Feed Efficiency Study with Different Broiler Breeds.

Guest Speakers

  • Anne Lichtenwalner DVM PhD, UMaine Extension
  • Jeff Mattocks, Fertrell
  • Dr. Darrin Karcher, Perdue University
  • Josh Hatley, UMaine Extension Witter Farm

NOFA Cost of Production Project

Over the past two years, three NOFA chapters- Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts- have worked with 30 organic vegetable farmers to determine the cost of production of vegetable crops commonly grown in the Northeast.  Each farmer selected one to three crops and received technical assistance in tracking and analyzing data for those crops.  The results were then aggregated on a per acre basis to serve as metrics in farmers’ crop and production planning and to assist farmers in strategically increasing the profitability of their farm businesses.

The eight factsheets are available below.  Five crop factsheets present cost of production data for potatoes, onions, carrots, winter squash, and lettuce.  Supplemental factsheets present crop profitability comparisons, whole farm financial metrics, and tips for success when undertaking cost of production analysis.   (To download printable 8.5×11 files, click here »)

The cost of production workbook developed as part of this project is available for free upon request.

Contact Jen Miller to request a copy of the workbook or with any questions about this project.

This work was made possible by the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.


Quick Farm Labor Survey

I know you are both busy and exhausted from a long growing season and the last thing you really want to spend your time on is another survey.  So thanks in advance for taking 3 minutes to complete this if you are so moved!  This may be the easiest survey you have ever been asked to complete!  Its 10 questions that can be answered with a simple click of a button.  We have heard your requests to provide educational resources to help you recruit, retain, and manage labor on your farms and at your agricultural businesses.  We are looking to get information to help us focus on what resources would be especially helpful.  Just 3 minutes of your time would make a big difference to us.

Please respond ASAP and before Sunday, October 8, 2017.

To complete this survey please click on the link below.

https://unh.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eOJ9xDKkEnXcAHH


USDA – Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant application competition deadline

This is a reminder that the next Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant application competition deadline is less than seven weeks away! It is the close of business (4:30 p.m.) on October 31, 2017. A few things to remember:

  • Eligible applicants are small businesses (SBA) in rural areas of Maine (almost everywhere except Portland and immediately surrounding areas) as well as agricultural producers anywhere in Maine.
  • Applications are accepted for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.
  • The upcoming competition is for grant requests of $20,000 and less.
  • We need only one hard copy original of the application and supporting materials.
  • No emailed applications will be accepted.
  • The application materials can be submitted to me at the Bangor State Office or to Cheryl Pelletier at the Presque Isle Area Office (addresses below). No other locations can receive applications.
  • Make sure we receive the application (not just post-marked) by 4:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 31st. If an application is received after that time it will be held for competition in the next round (spring of 2018).

If you intend to submit an application and your project will involve ground disturbance, get in touch with us immediately so we can initiate the environmental review process. Our environmental regulations changed effective April 1st of last year, so we want to be sure to get a jump on any possible issues that could delay or stop your project from being funded. f you have questions please contact Cheryl Pelletier or Brian Wilson.


Need funding for your technology development project or infrastructure?

MTI offers early stage grants to entrepreneurs and companies who are developing innovative products, processes or services.

TechStart Grants of up to $5,000 can be used to conduct market research, develop a business plan, and file for patent protections. Learn more here.

Seed Grants of up to $25,000 can be used to develop a prototype, demonstrate proof of concept, and conduct field trials. Learn more here.

Who should attend? Inventors, entrepreneurs, small business owners, anyone who wants to know about early-stage funding programs and resources available for innovative technology-based ideas!

October 4, 12:00 – 2:00   Portland

October 5, 12:00 – 2:00   Bangor

October 11, 2:00 – 3:30   Webinar

MTI offers grant funds to stimulate investments in innovation capacity and infrastructure

The Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.0 provides challenge grants for infrastructure, equipment and technology upgrades for research, development and commercialization. The projects that are selected will be those that lead to applicants to hold and gain market share, increase revenues, expand employment or retain jobs. Learn more here.

Workshops for Potential Applicants

Who should attend: Potential applicants seeking clarification of the purpose of the program who need help assessing whether they might choose to apply for the Lightning Rounds

October 2, 3:00 – 4:00       Farmington

October 3, 2:00 – 3:00       Belfast

October 5, 1:00 – 2:00       Portland

October 6, 10:00 – 12:00   Caribou

Workshops for Service Providers, Business Counselors, Others working with Applicants:

Who should attend: Service providers, business counselors and other who assist clients with business planning, expansion and success. MTI will help train service providers to have a level of comfort with their understanding of the Program to offer technical assistance throughout the application process.

October 2, 2:00 – 3:00     Farmington

October 3, 9:00 – 11:00   Portland

October 3, 1:00 – 2:00     Belfast

October 5, 12:00 – 1:00   Portland

Register online


USDA Value-Added Producer Grant Funding Available

The Rural Business-Cooperative Service Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Applicants may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on Grants.gov.

Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, as defined in the program regulation are eligible to apply for this program.

Grant and matching funds can be used for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product. Examples of planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing the proposed value-added product. Examples of working capital expenses include:

  • Processing costs
  • Marketing and advertising expenses
  • Some inventory and salary expenses

For more information about the program, please visit: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants


Save The Date! 3rd Annual Maine Farmland Access Conference

Monday, December 4th, Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Registration opens October 25 at MaineFarmlandTrust.org
Help spread the word – forward this to farmland seekers, farmland owners and service providers in your network!
Questions? Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact Erica Buswell.