Farm Scoop – August 2020

Recovery Grant Opportunity

The State of Maine just launched the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program through the ME Dept. of Economic Development. The ME Bureau of Agriculture has also tasked a staff member to help farmers prepare to apply for the program, which has a VERY short application period (August 21- September 9, 2020). Grants up to a maximum of $100,000 awarded based on losses due to COVID-19 between Jan 1-June 30. Applications will be filed entirely online (See links below).
Applicants are required to have a DUNS (Data Universal Number System) number in order to qualify, which requires 2-3 days to process – so start on this process today!
All Maine dairy farmers fit the economic criteria to apply.   Please let Julie-Marie Bickford know if you have questions, or contact Anne Trenholm with the ME Bureau of Ag for assistance with the application. All other information is listed below or is available through the links provided.
Are you a Maine business who:
  • Has 50 or fewer employees (at any time during the year),
  • Experienced a 20-percent loss,
  • And are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health response?
Considering applying? Here are tips:  Don’t wait! Give yourself plenty of time. Get organized:
  1. First stop: get your DUNS number (if you don’t already have it): (this is a federal requirement; takes 2-3 days to receive)
  2. Gather your facts and info: accounting and tax documents—you’ll need them handy when you complete the online form to apply
*(If you don’t do your own bookkeeping and tax filing, you may need to talk to your accountant for help; give them a heads up.
*Reminder about taxes and business structures: you’ll be asked about your business structure—sole proprietor, LLC, (See IRS info here.)
  1. Lookup your NAICS code: Agriculture two-digit sector industry code is 11. On application, you should enter the more specific code (more digits) within agriculture. FMI, see: and
  2. The application is online—you can see what it looks like and review FAQs:

Economic Recovery Grant Program Established

Maine small businesses and nonprofits should apply for a newly established Economic Recovery Grant. The program will provide financial relief for businesses and nonprofit organizations that incurred business disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Refer to this document (PDF) for eligibility criteria, distribution criteria, and the grant calculation formula.

Register for an Informational Webinar

Join the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Commissioner Heather Johnson and Business Development Manager Jonathan Poole for an informational webinar on the Economic Recovery Grant Program.

This informational session will provide you with the information required to apply for this grant program and will give you an opportunity to ask questions.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Economic Recovery Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more on

COVID-19: OSHA/FDA Checklist to Protect Food Industry Employees

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Food and Drug Administration jointly published a checklist for protecting food industry employees from COVID-19.
The checklist is intended for persons growing, harvesting, packing, manufacturing, processing or holding human and animal food regulated by the FDA. The checklist includes the following considerations:
  • Ensure employee health and a safe workplace;
  • Investigate exposure and determine when an employee should be tested for the coronavirus; and
  • Configure the work environment to help minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus among workers.
As a reminder, OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have previously published guidance for protecting workers in the agriculture and meat and poultry processing industries from COVID-19.
For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s coronavirus webpage.

Calling Greenhouse Growers and Farm Service Providers

The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (ME SAS) is hosting two educational seminars with statewide significance for year round and season extension systems on small and mid-sized commercial Maine farms. The events will be delivered via ZOOM on two dates, Tuesday September 8th at 9:00am, OR Thursday September 10 at 4:30pm; the two times are scheduled to make the event accessible to farmers and farm service providers and others with varying schedules and availability. Pre-registration is required; registered participants will receive a confirmation e-mail with the ZOOM link a week in advance of the events. To register please visit before September 2nd to receive priority access.

Small Bites – Staying Healthy on the Farm

Authored by Coach Polly Shyka

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farmer 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.

Anu Rangarajan from Cornell’s Small Farms Project recently said, “A healthy farm needs a healthy you.” Do you agree? What small way might you increase your health this week? This day? This minute? Of course, what is healthy for you may not be healthy for everyone, but some things are considered pretty universally healthy. The challenge is having access to these things and support to have them in your life. How are you doing?

Check in about these things::

  • How much is your stress level having an effect on your well-being?Are you getting enough sleep?

  • Do you take time for regularly scheduled and healthy meals?

  • Can you find moments to breathe, journal, or meditate?

  • Are you drinking enough water?

  • Is there clear and regular communication with the people around you?

  • Is there time to move your body? Ergonomically wise movements for repetitive jobs, stretching when tight or sore, brief bursts of movement for sedentary workers, exercise.

If one or more of these is lacking, just know that healthy habits take time to form. Try to repeat your healthy action or new activity as many times per day or week as possible. Setting reminders on your phone may help you remember and act on your actions. Telling the people who care about you that you are attempting to incorporate a new healthy habit is a good way to get support and encouragement.

Like Anu said, If you want your farm to thrive into the future, make sure you are tending to yourself along the way.

One way to tend to yourself is to sign up for a farm coaching session. This can include talking about setting a plan for self-care.

New England Women in Livestock Business

10-6-2020 to 10-15-2020
Cost:  Free
For more information and to register visit NH Extension.

During this program, women producers will have the unique opportunity to work closely in small groups with like-minded farmers from around the region. We are lucky to have UVM Extension Specialist, Mary Peabody, to lead us through this program.

Participants will also have the chance to partake in a facilitated discussion to help shape the curriculum for the upcoming New England Women in Livestock Business virtual conference which will address risks associated with managing a farm business such as, financial planning, market viability, and farm safety.

Small Bites – Methods of Communication – Part 1

Authored by Coaches Abby Sadauckas and Polly Shyka

Small Bites are short, informational articles with practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication, and farmer 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.

There are a plethora of ways that you can “hear” from family, staff and customers. Right now is a great time to consider how, when, and through what channels you want to hear from each of your farm’s different constituent groups. Thinking about methods of communication might help you reinforce or clarify some boundaries. During the current conditions, it is a great time to reset boundaries and expectations to both preserve your sanity and retain organization.

Letting each person or customer group know how and when you receive and reply to messages can provide clarity and ease during the busy season.

Here are some of the channels that you can choose from:

Text Messaging
Pros – It’s quick! Texts are real-time responses with a written record of the decisions made.
Cons – It may be easy to overlook communication if your “channels” of family, staff and customers mingle in your texts. Short snippets of text may not convey your full meaning or may lead to miscommunication.

Pros – Can be great to document a conversation, particularly with customers. It may be helpful to set-up an “out of office reply” or footer in your email that explains your office hours and / or response time. You can also set-up responses to frequently asked questions in your drafts to use and re-use when answering common inquiries.

Cons – It may take more commitment to designate a “block” of time to read and respond to emails. Some users write emails like text messages. Sentence fragments and other short-hand may lead to a misunderstanding.

Pros – Best used for time-sensitive matters that can hold up decision-making. Also important if you need to hear a person’s tone in a sensitive conversation (with a customer regarding pricing or an issue about a returned product, for example.)

Cons –  It can be hard to dispense with pleasantries and get down to business. Also there is no written record, like email and texting, so taking notes is important if important decisions are made.

Social Media & Direct Messages (DMs)
Pros – These provide additional access for customers to connect and can offer ways for customers to “see” the farm and for you to share day-to-day activities.

Cons –  Managing social media communication in each platform can be both cumbersome and time-consuming. Consider using a social media management tool to streamline the process or delegating some of the responsibility to others at the farm.

With information flowing in and out of all of these channels, making sure the right people and records get updated is really where it all comes together. How do you record orders that come in via text or social media? What are the systems that support all of this communication? Capture the information into a good system that is easily accessed by your whole team. Stay tuned for the next Small Bites to read more about systems to support communication.

Reach out to the coaches to make a communications plan that incorporates all of the above!