Farm Scoop – November 2020

Small Bites – How Cross Training can Benefit the Efficiency of the Farm

Authored by Coach Polly Shyka

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

Cross training is not just for fitness buffs. On the farm, cross-training is a good management practice that can increase efficiencies and help with coverage in times of need. Cross-training members of your team so that more than one person holds the know-how for a particular task is just plain smart.

On a friend’s livestock farm, the whole crew, farmers included, switched jobs — for a week!! The milkers took the deliveries, the egg-washers fed pigs, the hay-makers fed the calves. (I wonder what the cows thought!) Having to do a job start to finish is a great way to learn a job, so this grand switcheroo was actually a great cross-training event.

It is good to have multiple people prepared to do each job. Some farms have very detailed and complete Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These step by step instructions, often with photos, get the critical steps, variables and quality considerations on any crop or task on paper. In thinking about what a grand switcheroo on your farm might look like, what would others need to know? How would you communicate that? Is that information captured elsewhere or could you include it in your existing SOPs? Or do you need to create new SOPs to capture all the crops and tasks?

COVID-19 has made a lot of farmers consider contingency planning. Hedging against illness or injury or absence, cross-training employees is one option you might consider to make your farm more resilient.

Want help to identify areas where cross-training might help your farm? Schedule an appointment with a farm coach today!

6th Annual Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

Monday, November 16th- Wednesday, November 18th from 1-5PM
Virtual Conference

As the largest conference in New England that focuses solely on the issues of farmland access, tenure and transfer, this has become a critical convening for participants across the region.

Farmers, landowners and farm advocates across New England will learn and share ideas of the pivotal role farmers and farmland play in shaping the future of our regional food system. Hosted by MFT and Land For Good, we are happy to expand the opportunity for more people to attend by taking the conference online this year!

To acknowledge the history of injustice and violence that has shaped access to land and our food system—and its ongoing legacy—this year’s conference aims to feature a wider range of diverse voices and perspectives on farmland access in our region. Through this conference and beyond, these organizations are committed to dialogue and awareness raising about inequities and injustices related to farmland access; to critically examine our roles and biases in perpetuating inequities, and to strive for more just and inclusive paths forward around farmland access and tenure.

When you register, you’ll have access to pre-recorded webinars that you can watch on your own time, live interactive sessions via zoom (which will also be recorded and available to conference registrants), and links to accompanying resources. Registration is available on a sliding scale.

Dairy Markets:  The 2020 Impact and Bracing for 2021

2020 saw dramatic price swings in dairy markets due to COVID-19’s global impact on foodservice markets. What have we learned from this? What will 2021 bring? While the precise answers are still unknown, we are sure to see volatility. Are you ready? Please Join Crop Growers, LLP for a timely discussion led by Dr. Marin Bozic of the University of Minnesota along with Farm Credit East business consultant Gregg McConnell and AgChoice business consultant Mike Hosterman.

This event will cover:

  • 2020 Impact, Rebuilding in 2021 – Dr. Bozic will explore the post-election market impact, the year ahead and decision support tools to assist dairy producers.
  • Volatility – Farm Credit business consultants will share insights as you prepare for the new year.
  • Ask the Experts – Have your questions answered.

Dairy producers of all sizes and service providers who support them are invited to join one of the following two webinars, which will cover similar information:

CFAP2 Meeting Recording

Last week UMass Extension collaborated with Farm Bureau and FSA to hold a virtual meeting on CFAP2.  They also provided some information on some risk management programs that have close deadlines.  Excellent information – please share with interested parties.

ALL producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to find out if they are eligible and to enroll.  Deadline is December 11.

For the meeting recording link and passcode, go to the UVM Ag Risk website.  It’s on the top of the “News and Events” section.

Produce Safety Grower Training

Are you up-to-date with your Produce Safety grower training? 
Would you like a visit from the On-Farm Readiness Review Team to help prepare you for a FSMA inspection? 
Do you have Produce Safety questions, but, due to COVID, don’t feel comfortable having us visit you in person? 
We can help with all of that!
1. Our Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings are coming right up! We are offering it 2 times this fall – in November and again in December. Both trainings are virtual but require registration ahead of time so we can send you a manual.

December 11 AND 18, 2020 (Two consecutive Friday mornings.)
Online/Virtual Sessions
Dec 11, Friday: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Dec 18, Friday: 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Registration closes on November 29

How to register

Cost: $20/attendee

To register contact Theresa Tilton:

2.  Farmers can also request an “On-Farm Readiness Review” from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, sort of a “practice inspection” for educational purposes. To request an On-Farm Readiness Review, contact Leah Cook by phone: (207)764-2100 or email: She and her team can also help you determine whether your farm is fully covered by the rules or eligible for exemptions.

3. Do you have any Produce Safety questions that you would normally want us to come to visit your farm to answer, but would rather we didn’t visit the farm due to the pandemic? Would you like a version of the On-Farm Readiness Review in a virtual format? We can do that! Contact Chris Howard at UMaine Extension,, for more information.

SARE Farmer Grants Deadline

The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program Farmer Grants deadline is November 17 at 5:00 p.m. ET.  Farmer Grants provide research funds (up to $15,000) for commercial farms to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming in the 12 Northeast states and the District of Columbia. Reviewers look for innovation, potential for improved sustainability and results that will be useful to other farmers. Application materials, including detailed instructions and supporting documents, are posted on the Northeast SARE website at