Farm Scoop – May 2020

Small Bites – Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency – What’s a SWOC and how can it help?

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

Tip: A SWOC or SWOT analysis can be a great way to look at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Challenges (or Threats) for your farm business. To start, divide a sheet of paper into four. In each square write at the top one of the four components. If you work in a partnership or couple, try doing this individually first. Set a timer for 10 minutes and sit with your pen and paper or laptop without any other distractions. It may help to consider your farm’s land base, markets, labor needs, community and family as you work through each of the four areas.

After you complete your ten minute brainstorm- review your results and consider the following-
1. Of the strengths you listed- how are you using them on the farm now? What advantages do they give you and your farm? How would you like to be using these strengths (or maximizing) them in 3 months, 6 months, a year?

2. In reviewing the weaknesses you listed- how have you approached these disadvantages? Are there support services that might help? Do you need additional training or education?

3. How many opportunities have you generated? When you review each of these, can you say WHO on the farm would handle them?

4. Challenges can be overwhelming. When you look at the list of challenges you’ve identified can you compare them to past challenges? How did you tackle those? Are there external factors that could create new challenges, what are they?

Doing a SWOC exercise is a way to generate new ideas, perspectives and share some of what may be on your mind. The format allows you to capture your thoughts and if needed, take more time before discussing them with other members of your farm team. More prompts and perspectives on SWOC analysis here. Want some help? Meet with a farm coach to go through the process – learn more about farm coaching.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Are you a farmer or rancher whose operation has been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19. USDA is accepting applications now through August 28, 2020. Producers should apply through the Farm Service Agency at their local USDA Service Center.

Disaster Set Aside News Release

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will broaden the use of the Disaster Set-Aside (DSA) loan provision, normally used in the wake of natural disasters, to allow farmers with USDA farm loans who are affected by COVID-19, and are determined eligible, to have their next payment set aside. In some cases, FSA may also set aside a second payment for farmers who have already had one payment set aside because of a prior designated disaster. For more information visit FSA News Release.

Leek Moths Have Been Found in Maine

Leek moths have been captured in a pheremone trap in Jackman on 5/19, the earliest capture to date in Maine. Leek moth as of last year has also spread to the Rangeley area and is expected to continue its spread in Maine. The larvae of this moth are destructive to all members of the allium family, but in particular to leeks. Please report suspected leek moth damage/activity to Clay Kirby and me. For more information on leek moth:

Small Bites – Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency – Self-Reflection

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

Self-reflection is an often overlooked skill in life. The ability to reflect on our own strengths and challenges without judgment is “grown up stuff” and can really lead to positive changes. Self-reflection is simply the time and space to ask ourselves a few questions and listen to and possibly record the answers. A journal is one way for recording our thoughts. Here are some possible questions for self-reflection:

How am I doing today?

Am I holding stress in my body? Where is it?

What is one thing I did really well this week?

What was one thing I would like to improve next week?

What is one thing I could do to take better care of myself next week?

Which relationships are tough for me?

Which relationships really feed me?

Who can I lean on if things get really stressful?

Are there unexpressed feelings that are adding to my stress?

One time in the past when I overcame a big challenge was ______….I used

________(planning, organization, strength, compassion, humility, etc ) to attend to that challenge.

Sometimes sharing the answers to one or more of these questions with your intimate partner can be a nice way to connect. Self-reflection is very intimate and can be a great way to connect heart-to heart with the one you love.

Check out the Supporting Relationships for Farm Success website for resources and information to sign up for Farm Coaching.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, is available to an individual or legal entity who shares in the risk of producing a crop or livestock and who either: a) is entitled to a share in the crop or livestock available for marketing, or b) would have shared had the crop or livestock been marketed. Processing entities are ineligible.  Visit Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for more information.

Weekly Maine Farm Zoom

Friday, May 15th 10:00 AM
Weekly Maine Farm Zoom
This Friday will be a a special guest on the Weekly Maine Farm Zoom, U. S. Senator Susan Collins.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension invites Maine farmers to join U.S. Senator Susan Collins for a discussion on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s agriculture economy, to include an update from the Senator on the Paycheck Protection Program she co-authored and what could be included in a future Congressional relief package.
At her invitation, Senator Collins will be joined by two of her Senate colleagues who serve on the Agriculture Committee.
Farmers are encouraged to submit questions in advance and will also have the opportunity to ask questions during the call, as time allows.
The call time is subject to change based on the U.S. Senate schedule.
Please register online to receive the Zoom meeting link

Cloth Facemasks for Farm Workers

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is partnering with the Maine Department of Corrections to make and distribute, at no cost, reusable cloth facemasks for the agricultural community in Maine.  At present, the Department has 2,000 face masks on hand and another 2,000 are on order.  While we know that cloth masks are not equivalent to N95 and other types of PPE, Maine CDC is recommending that individuals wear cloth masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Department is asking for your help in: (1) gathering requested mask amounts and (2) dissemination of these masks.  The basic parameters for distribution is based on timing and need.  Factors to consider in distribution are: what crops/operations would most benefit from receiving masks sooner rather than later, and the amount requested.  We hope to be able to provide as many masks are as needed as quickly as possible, but stress that this will be an iterative process and ask for your patience.

Going forward, please work within your memberships and networks to determine the need and to provide us with the overall request, using the attached form.  Please limit your requests to 2 masks per person.  The DACF point of contact for requests and distribution details is Joy Bonenfant, who can be reached at or at 207-287-566.

Because there may be overlap among groups to some degree, I ask that you please coordinate amongst each other to prevent duplication of requests.  We also understand that you may need to make multiple requests as the season progresses.

We are also depending on you to help distribute the masks.  DACF can fulfill orders and make them available for pickup at our Augusta or Presque Isle offices, whereupon you can disseminate amongst your networks.  It may also be possible for some DACF staff who are in the field to do drop offs to your offices.

Thank you all for your support and helping us make this a successful partnership.  And thank you to the Maine Department of Corrections.

Stress, Resilience, and Resources: Responding to the Impacts of Covid-19 on Farms

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
1 pm – 2 pm

Farmers have had to adapt quickly to the continued changes resulting from Covid-19. How are you managing? What are you hearing from your customers about their worries and stresses? How is your community coming together to support one another during this time? Do you need resources to help or support you or your farm? Leslie Forstadt will present information about stress, building resilience, and available resources to meet farmers’ needs during this everchanging time.

Visit Maine AgrAbility to pre-register for this webinar.

Webinar: Arthritis and Agriculture: The importance of protecting your joints

This webinar is being presented on June 2nd from 1:00-2:00pm by the Maine AgrAbility Program, a project dedicated to providing education, assistance, and support to Maine farmers with disabilities engaged in production agriculture, helping them and their families maintain optimal production and experience an enhanced quality of life.

For more information about this event and to register, please visit

Pick-Your-Own Guidance Webinar

Pick-Your-Own Guidance During COVID-19 Webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 12th at 5:30pm.

Small Bites – Practical Tips for Farm Resiliency – Schedules Can Help

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and family well-being. They are written by coaches from UMaine Extension’s Farm Coaching team. Farm Coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

Routines and schedules can ease stress. When there is uncertainty all around, it can be very useful to put a bit more attention to daily and weekly routines on the farm. Brain research tells us that when we have a plan, a schedule, our nervous systems are more at ease. Personally, you can prioritize wellness practices that support your nervous system. For example, working on a project, practicing meditation or yoga, walking, exercising, shooting some hoops, talking with a friend, or therapist. Relationally, you can tune into the people you live with and schedule time to connect. For example, a game night, weekly bike ride, picnic night, fireside night, early morning bird walk, coffee time conversation about how you’re coping. Professionally, prioritizing daily and weekly meetings becomes more critical than ever. Making sure everyone knows the flow of the day at the start of the day can really ease manager strain. Simple things like trying to take lunch break at a predictable time each day, instituting a paid 15 minute break each morning, picking up donuts on Friday mornings or listening to the same radio program each week while you pack CSA shares. Routines are powerful. Here’s a sample farm schedule. Want to learn more about farm coaching?

EPA Mandated Paraquat Training for Certified Applicators

As of Fall 2019, new EPA regulations for paraquat went into effect.  The new regulations state that:

  • Only licensed applicators can mix, load, or apply paraquat
  • Applicators must receive EPA training before using
  • Applicators must follow additional label requirements

Paraquat dichloride, (sold under the brand names Gramoxone, Firestorm, Parazone, Cyclone, and more), is used as an herbicide and as a crop defoliant/top kill product. Paraquat is highly toxic to humans. One small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.

Certified applicators must complete this EPA mandated training program before mixing, loading, and/or applying paraquat.

New Label Information

To prevent severe injury and/or death from paraquat ingestion, all paraquat products must:

  • Only be used by certified licensed applicators to mix, load, or apply;
  • Never be transferred to a food, drink or any other container;
  • Always be kept secured to prevent access by children and/or other unauthorized persons;
  • Never be stored in or around residential dwellings;
  • Never be used around home gardens, schools, recreational parks, golf courses or playgrounds.

For more information on the new paraquat label language visit EPA’s webpage.

For answers to other questions, contact the Board of Pesticides Control at or call 207-287-2731.

Supporting Agriculture and Forestry During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has created a COVID-19 Resources Webpage, which is continuously updated. It includes resources for small businesses, essential service providers, public-facing entities like farms and farmers’ markets, and animal health and welfare personnel.

Please use this link to tell DACF how COVID-19 is impacting your farm, food, or forestry-related business.