Farm Scoop – June 2018

Join us for a FREE webinar on how to build an effective team for your farm!

Join TASTE NY, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and Dr. Richard Stup, of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University Ag Labor Management as we discuss how to build effective teams for farms and food-based businesses based on open communication and leadership practices. Learn employee management practices to help your farm or food-based business grow and effectively and meet wholesale market demands without sacrificing quality of your product. Dr. Stup will discuss tools and resources for building your team and the importance of communication in a team.

Join us for this FREE lunchtime webinar on Tuesday June 19th.

Cost: Free!

Just sign up so we know who will be joining us!

FSA County Committee Nominations Launch June 15 Giving Farmers a Voice in their Community

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages America’s farmers and ranchers to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their local county committee. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept nominations for county committee members beginning Friday, June 15, 2018.

Producers across the country are already serving on committees where they play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA, making important decisions on programs dealing with disaster and conservation, emergencies, commodity price loan support, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated farmers and ranchers serve on FSA county committees, which consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month, or as needed. Members serve three-year terms.

Producers can nominate themselves or others. Check your local USDA service center to see if your local administrative area is up for election this year.  Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, may also nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program and reside in the area where the election is being held.

To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at All nomination forms for the 2018 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2018. Visit for more information.

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 5, 2018. Read more to learn about important election dates.

USDA to Measure Quarterly Colony Loss

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be collecting information about colony loss in the honey industry. The Quarterly Colony Loss survey will be conducted over the period of June 2018 through July 2018. This survey collects information about colony inventory and loss from more than 400 producers with bee colonies in the Northeastern Region of the United States.

“The information from these surveys directly impacts our region’s beekeepers and honey producers,” said King Whetstone, Director of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Northeastern Regional Field Office. “Keepers and producers can use the survey results when making business plans and marketing decisions. Cooperative Extension uses the data to provide needed outreach and education and State Departments and Agencies of Agriculture use the information to set insurance values.”

In these surveys, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about their colonies, including reasons for colony losses. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online. As with all NASS surveys, information provided by respondents is confidential by law. NASS safeguards the confidentiality of all responses and publishes only State and National level data, ensuring that no individual producer or operation can be identified.

The Honey Bee Colonies publication will be available online on August 1, 2018. Previous Honey Bee Colonies publications are also available for review. These reports can be found online at For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at 1.800.498.1518.

Northeast SARE Invites Preproposals for Grant Programs by July 10

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program is seeking applications for 2019 projects for three grant programs: Research and Education, Professional Development, and Research for Novel Approaches.

Each grant program requires a preproposal, due online by July 10 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Projects must be conducted in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia or Washington, D.C.

Applicants selected to submit full proposals will be contacted in mid-August with proposals due on Oct. 30. Projects awards will be made in late February 2019. More information on how to apply, including instructions for developing a preproposal, may be found at

The Research and Education Program funds applied research and farmer education projects on sustainable farming and food system topics. Projects must engage farmers as cooperators; aim for specific, measurable change in farm practices; and have a plan to verify results. Awards typically range from $30,000 to $200,000.

The Professional Development Program funds train-the-trainer projects about sustainable agriculture concepts and techniques for Extension educators, non-profit personnel and other agricultural service providers. Projects must specify measurable changes in service providers’ education and training of farmers. Awards typically range from $30,000 to $150,000.

The Research for Novel Approaches Program funds applied research conducted through social science investigations and/or field and laboratory experiments. Projects should lead to the feasibility of new practices and approaches that have high potential for adoption by farmers. Awards typically range from $30,000 to $200,000.

To decide which grant program is the best fit for their project, applicants are encouraged to use Northeast SARE’s grant decision tree.

Questions about the grants program should be directed to

Northeast SARE, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, offers competitive grants and sustainable agriculture education.

June 4 – USDA Reopens Application Period for Producers Recovering from Cattle Loss, Other Disasters.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting disaster assistance program applications on June 4 from agricultural producers who suffered livestock, honeybees, farm-raised fish and other losses due to natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reopening the application period for two disaster assistance programs in response to statutory changes made by Congress earlier this year.

Beginning June 4, FSA will accept new applications for losses for calendar year 2017 or 2018 filed under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) or Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP). Producers who already submitted applications and received decisions on their applications for these years do not need to file again, but they can reapply if they have additional losses or their application was disapproved because it was filed late.

In February, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which made several changes to these two disaster programs, including:

  • Removing ELAP’s $20 million fiscal year funding cap, enabling FSA to pay producers’ 2017 applications in full and their 2018 applications as soon as they are approved.
  • Removing the per-person and legal entity annual program payment limitation of $125,000 for LIP for 2017 and future years. (The income limitation applies as it did before, meaning producers with an adjusted gross income of more than $900,000 are not eligible.)
  • Changing LIP to allow producers to receive a payment for injured livestock that are sold for a reduced price due to an eligible event. Previously, the program only covered financial loss for livestock death above normal mortality.

Producers interested in LIP or ELAP should contact their local USDA service center. To apply, producers will need to provide verifiable and reliable production records and other information about their operation.

Drought, wildfires and other disasters continue to impact farmers and ranchers, and LIP and ELAP are two of many programs available through USDA to help producers recover. Learn more at Disaster Resource Center.

Respond Now to the 2017 Census of Agriculture

New PSA from Sec. Perdue regarding the last chance to complete the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

Please visit the website for more agricultural information:

USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup

As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

2018 Signup for CRP

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.

CRP Grasslands

Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP Grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria. Producers with pending applications will receive a letter providing the options.

2018 Poultry Processing Workshop

Thursday, June 14
Thursday, July 26

MOFGA’s Common Kitchen at the Common Ground Education Center, Unity

Fee: $75. $60 for MOFGA members

Information: Email Diane Schivera or contact the MOFGA office 207.568.4142

Join Diane Schivera, MOFGA’s Livestock Specialist and an elite crew of poultry processing professionals for a workshop about how to process poultry. In this workshop you will be guided through a safe and humane process for turning live birds into oven ready roasters. We’ll discuss poultry management, equipment, and food safety concerns. Please bring your favorite kitchen knife, an apron and a willingness to learn. Each participant will take home an organic bird.

Click here to register

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.

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.

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.

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

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!