Farm Scoop – May 2018

New Soil Health Case Study about Piper Farms

The Maine Soil Health Dairy team has a new case study, Piper Farms Saves Big with a Center Pivot about this farm’s innovative irrigation technique which in turn has some soil health benefits.

New Dairy Improvement Fund Loan Program Announced – Investments in Maine Dairy Cow Farms and Enterprises 

The Dairy Improvement Fund (DIF) is a new revolving loan program to help Maine dairy farms and enterprises fund capital improvements to maintain and enhance the viability of their farms.

The DIF program will assist farms that are engaged in the commercial production of cow milk or cow milk products. It was developed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and is administered by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). The program will operate in accordance with three core principles to:

  1. Provide financial support for sound business propositions
  2. Offer funds at reasonable rates and terms
  3. Partner with private sector equity

More about the program can be accessed on DACF’s Dairy Fund Improvement webpage and at the FAME Dairy Fund Improvement webpage, which provides the Department’s Eligibility Form and FAME’s Loan Application.The DACF and FAME will host an informational meeting for all dairy farms interested in learning more about this investment opportunity.


WHEN: Thursday, June 14, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Marquardt Building (Room 118), 32 Blossom Lane, Augusta.

WHO: Ron Dyer, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources; Roxanne Broughton, Commercial Loan Officer at FAME.

WHAT: An overview of both the eligibility and application procedures will be provided, then prospective applicants can ask questions about the new program.

**Dairy producers should also be aware of a separate USDA program that is available to help dairy producers**

USDA Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy)

The Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy) is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill through Dec. 31, 2018. Significant changes to MPP-Dairy for the 2018 coverage year are further authorized by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The MPP-Dairy offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.

2018 Registration and Re-Enrollment Period

The registration and re-enrollment period for coverage year 2018 ends June 1, 2018. Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018.

For more information, contact your local USDA service center. Or see

Complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture

There is still time to fill out your 2017 Census of Agriculture survey. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is making progress every day, but they need to hear from all producers. Help NASS spread the word that farmers and ranchers still have time to be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Dairy Farmers Have Until June 1 to Apply for Improved Safety Net under Margin Protection Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds dairy farmers of the June 1 deadline to enroll in the improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy).  Many producers will see payments in early June, depending on the coverage they elect.

The program protects dairy producers by paying them based on the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost.  The 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act made several changes to the safety net program to provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices.

Updates include:

  • Calculation of the margin period is monthly rather than bi-monthly.
  • Covered production is increased to 5 million pounds on the Tier 1 premium schedule, and premium rates for Tier 1 are substantially lowered.
  • An exemption from paying an administrative fee for limited resource, beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged producers. Dairy operators enrolled in the previous 2018 enrollment period that qualify for this exemption under the new provisions may request a refund.

Signup for 2018 will be retroactive to Jan. 1, of this year.  Margins for February and March 2018 have already been announced and payments for those months, along with potential payments for April, will be issued in June based on producer elections.

All dairy operations must make new coverage elections for 2018, even if the operation was enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Dairy producers should use the MPP-Dairy Decision Tool for support in making related enrollment decisions.

All dairy operations interested in MPP-Dairy coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit form CCC-782 to FSA to enroll. Dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form.

For more information, visit Contact your local FSA county office to enroll in the program. To find your local FSA county office, visit

SARE Podcasts

Here is the link to the SARE podcasts that be of interest to you.

The Land Affordability Calculator

The Land Affordability Calculator was designed specifically for farmers seeking land. Use this tool to build financing scenarios for purchasing farmland. You can compare detailed estimates of total costs, monthly payments and affordability metrics, then download the results to have on hand when meeting with a loan officer.

Respirator Fit Test and Training

UMaine Extension, The Maine Board of Pesticide Control, and the Maine Labor Group on Health will be hosting a clinic to provide the respirator training and fit test. Join us Thursday, May 31st, at Cooper’s Farm55 Norris Hill Rd, in Monmouth to get your respirator fit test done. Pre-registration is required and lunch is provided from 11am-12pm during a training session.

Under the revised Worker Protection Standards, anyone applying pesticides that require the use of a respirator, must complete (and maintain a record of) a respirator fit test. Respirator fit tests must be completed with the same make, model, size, and style of respirator that will be used in the field. Prior to respirator fit testing, each applicator must pass (and maintain a record of) a medical evaluation demonstrating they are physically fit enough to wear a respirator.

Prior to your appointment:

At your fit test appointment:

  • Bring your medical evaluation clearance form. You will not be fit-tested without it.
  • Bring the respirator that you use in the field. Each person should have his or her own respirator.
  • If the respirator you bring does not pass the fit test, you may have to purchase a new respirator with a better fit.
  • Beards cannot be worn with tight fitting facemasks. Please shave before coming to your fit test.

With questions about respirator fit testing or other Worker Protection Standard regulations, contact or 207.287.2731 at the Maine Board of Pesticides Control.

Wash/Packhouse Efficiency and Water Use Workshop

Join Farmer Seth Kroeck and Linda Titus of Ag. Matters LLC to discuss efficiency and food safety in the packhouse. We will tour the Crystal Springs wash/pack house to discuss recent changes made for efficiency and food safety. Linda T. will review the FSMA requirements around packinghouse layout and water testing for food safety.

Date: May 15th, 2018
Time: 2-4pm
Location: Crystal Springs Farm,  277 Pleasant Hill Rd, Brunswick, ME
RSVP: Online

Be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture! Time is Running Out!

It’s not too late to be counted in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. Every five years, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts the Census of Agriculture. Questionnaires were mailed to all known farmers in beginning in December 2017. NASS is following up with those that have not returned their questionnaires but farmers can still complete their questionnaires and return them by mail or complete their questionnaires on-line with NASS’s new web response tool. Reporting on-line saves time, is user-friendly, calculates totals automatically, and skips questions not applicable to your operation.

“It’s important for all farmers to be counted” according to Gary Keough, NASS State Statistician for the New England States. “NASS will begin following up with those that have not completed their The Census of Agriculture is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. It’s a complete count of U.S. farms and the people who operate them. From small plots of urban and rural land to large farms with thousands of acres, the Census counts them all plus looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, and income and expenditures.” For Census of Agriculture purposes, a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year.

Why is data like this good to have?

  1. Farmers have an opportunity to decide if they’d like to expand or diversify their operations to fill a gap that may show in the trends.
  2. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry uses the data to administer State programs.
  3. Organizations like the Maine Farm Bureau and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association uses the data to educate legislators, local officials, and consumers about the importance of Maine agriculture to the State’s and local community’s economies.
  4. Universities like the University of Maine can identify a need in the county/state, build programs and workshops for farmers to learn about best practices and strategies, and possibly write grant proposals to benefit farmers looking to diversify and grow their operations.
  5. Agribusinesses have insight to where particular farm machinery or processing facilities are needed to address farmers’ needs.

If you didn’t receive a questionnaire please contact Gary Keough at 603.227.3129 or email at

Be counted – Take the Questionnaire

USDA Offers Targeted Farm Loan Funding for Underserved Groups and Beginning Farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director SED David R. Lavway reminds producers that FSA offers specially targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to underserved applicants as well as beginning farmers and ranchers.

During fiscal year 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017), Maine FSA obligated $5.19 million in loans to underserved borrowers and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA defines underserved applicants as a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. For farm loan program purposes, underserved groups are women, African Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

In order to qualify as a beginning farmer, the individual or entity must meet the eligibility requirements outlined for direct or guaranteed loans. Additionally, individuals and all entity members must have operated a farm for less than 10 years. Applicants must materially or substantially participate in the operation. For farm ownership purposes, the applicant must not own a farm greater than 30 percent of the average size farm in the county at the time of application. All direct farm ownership applicants must have participated in the business operations of a farm for at least three years out of the last 10 years prior to the date the application is submitted. If the applicant is an entity, all members must be related by blood or marriage and all entity members must be eligible beginning farmers.

Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms: Farm Tour & Policy Update

May 10 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Tour Stonyvale Farm  with farmer Bob Fogler and Ellen Mallory of UMaine Cooperative Extension to learn how farmers are building healthy soils that benefit both the climate and farm profitability.

Hear from MFT & Maine Conservation Voters about policy initiatives that can foster healthy soils practices on farms, and how you can help shape policies that are good for farms and good for the environment.

Free & Open to All. Dress for a farm tour (sensible footwear, layers).

Please RSVP to by May 9.

Farm Service Agency Makes Administrative Change to the Livestock Indemnity Program

Starting today, agricultural producers who have lost livestock to disease, resulting from a weather disaster, have an additional way to become eligible for a key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance program. USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey announced an administrative clarification nationwide to the Livestock Indemnity Program. In the event of disease, this change by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) authorizes local FSA county committees to accept veterinarian certifications that livestock deaths were directly related to adverse weather and unpreventable through good animal husbandry and management. The committees may then use this certification to allow eligibility for producers on a case-by-case basis for LIP.

LIP provides benefits to agricultural producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government. Eligible weather events include earthquakes, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, blizzard and flooding.

Producers interested in LIP or other USDA disaster assistance programs should contact The Oxford County USDA Office, 17 Olson Rd, South Paris, ME.  04281

USDA Reopens Enrollment for Improved Dairy Safety Net Tool

Bipartisan Budget Act Makes Substantial Program Changes

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is encouraging dairy producers to consider enrolling in the new and improved Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy), which will provide better protections for dairy producers from shifting milk and feed prices. With changes authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set the enrollment period to run from April 9, 2018 to June 1, 2018.

The program protects dairy producers by paying them when the difference between the national all-milk price and the national average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount elected by the producer.

Dairy operations must make a new coverage election for 2018, even if you enrolled during the previous 2018 signup period. Coverage elections made for 2018 will be retroactive to January 1, 2018. All dairy operations desiring coverage must sign up during the enrollment period and submit an appropriate form (CCC-782) and dairy operations may still “opt out” by not submitting a form. All outstanding balances for 2017 and prior years must be paid in full before 2018 coverage is approved.

Dairy producers can participate in FSA’s MPP-Dairy or the Risk Management Agency’s Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan for Dairy Cattle (LGM-Dairy), but not both. During the 2018 enrollment period, only producers with an active LGM-Dairy policy who have targeted marketings insured in 2018 months will be allowed to enroll in MPP-Dairy by June 1, 2018; however, their coverage will start only after active target marketings conclude under LGM-Dairy.

USDA has a web tool to help producers determine the level of coverage under the MPP-Dairy that will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The online resource, which will be updated and available by April 9 at, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, smartphone, tablet or any other platform.

USDA is mailing postcards advising dairy producers of the changes. For more information, visit or contact your local USDA service center.

Registration is open for Open Farm Day 2018!

Complete your registration today!

get real. get Maine! Promotes Maine food, farms and forests.

Questions about registration? Please email us.

New for 2018!

We have some benchmarks and related pilot programs for 2018 to help connect consumers and attendees with Maine farmers during Open Farm Day 2018. This includes: an online map, a printable passport, and participant resources.

Online Map: Identify your GPS coordinates to be included in the *new* electronic guide map! To help us better share and publicize your participation to interested attendees, this year’s form asks for a GPS address. The GPS information will help us create an online map for attendees to search. You can >>use this online tool<< to enter your venue address, and get the latitude and longitude for your GPS address.

What to find on the farm: When our team receives questions about where they can purchase Maine products, or where to visit to learn about a certain type of crop or animal, we want to be able to connect attendees and customers with Maine farms. The 2018 form has more specific categories, and will help us share specific information in the Open Farm Day Passport.

Open Farm Day Passport: The printable and electronic guide for attendees will include a passport. It is a pilot program to encourage participation by attendees, and create relationships with farmers. We are asking farmers to initial an attendee’s passport next to the farm description. We are asking attendees to submit their signed passports and surveys to the Ag Resources team for prizes. The passport is scheduled for publication across the state in all seven daily newspapers, and visitor centers.

Participant Resources: these are designed as helpful tools for farmers. Look for the agritourism best practices, a sample certificate of insurance copy, pre-and post event survey about your participation goals, and tips on how to help promote your agritourism event!