Farm Scoop – December 2020

Small Bites – Welcome the New Year and Learn Something for You

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.

As the New Year approaches, put yourself into winter planning! As you tee up your spreadsheets and seed catalogs and dig into the predictable planning and analysis after the farm season, consider making a learning plan for yourself. Actually, two lists might be in order: one for farm related learning and research, and another that feeds some of your interests other than farming.

The farm list should reflect some of your struggles in the last year. Pests, varieties, staffing issues. Or an area that you want to grow into. A lot of farmers in Maine are looking to learn more about de-colonization and racial justice. You could start a book group over Zoom with some of your farmer colleagues, or sign up for a workshop. We are missing each other in so many ways.

Beware of the rabbit-hole effect that watching YouTube videos can lead to! Make a list. Make it reasonable with just 3 key ideas or interests you would like to explore and then tack it up for yourself. It is so fun to be a student.

With podcasts and web-based learning opportunities sprouting faster than galinsoga in May, there are so many free and low-priced webinars, live web events and videos to take in. Throw in a book for good measure, of course, and have a great time getting smarter, kinder, more resilient. And Happy New Year~

Looking for new ideas for personal and professional development? The farm coaches can send you ideas based on your interests and goals.

Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show

The 8th biennial Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show which draws hundreds of farmers and farm industry members to idea-laden workshops and hear motivational speakers from across the region, will be held virtually for the first time. Mark your calendars now for February 24th and 25th and join your regional agriculturists for two half days of workshops!

This year’s conference theme is Diversifying for Agri-Businesses: Strategies for Weathering the Storms. Kicking off the educational workshops on Wednesday, February 24th at 8:45 am is conference keynote speaker and seventh generation farmer and author, Forrest Pritchard from Berryville Virginia. His talk, entitled Lessons from 2020, Opportunities for 2021, will examine what the past year taught us not only about our operations, our markets and marketing, but most importantly, ourselves, and how farmers can use these lessons to sustainably pivot into 2021 and beyond.

Five additional workshops will follow on Wednesday and Thursday. These workshops will include farmers and experts from across the region, with a focus on product and market diversification. Information about all of the workshops, including workshop descriptions and speaker biographies, can be found at

Harvest New England is also developing a New England Farmers Market Managers Seminar to be held in conjunction with the conference. More details will be announced soon.

Registration is now open, and in 2021, the conference will be offered at no cost to attendees. Harvest New England recognizes that this year has been unprecedented for producers in many ways, and feels strongly that now more than ever, it’s important to provide agricultural businesses throughout the Northeast with the tools to remain viable, cultivate innovators, and foster the next generation of farmers.

Harvest New England (HNE) is a cooperative marketing program created by New England’s state departments of agriculture in 1992. It has sponsored this regional conference since 2007. For more information, go to

Uprooting Racism in the Food System Training

The National Young Farmers Coalition with support from a NESARE grant is inviting farmers to participate in a farmers only Soul Fire Farm “Uprooting Racism in the Food System” training.
The training will be on January 20th 1pm-4pm est with a few pre-readings to complete beforehand. This event is only for farmers.

Register here  The password is SFF2021. Feel free to share with your network and register but please respect the farmers only space!

This is an incredible opportunity that can help you build sustained commitment to mutual aid and racial justice into your business. I recently did this training and would be happy to talk about my experience with anyone considering participating!

Attract More Customers with a Strategic Farm Presence Online

Are webpages still useful? Does Facebook drive sales in real life? What do hashtags do? What kinds of photos do customers respond to? What are good strategies for low-cost online sales/marketing? What is Square and should I be using it? If you’ve been struggling with questions like these for your farm, this course is a great starting place for you.

Take our Social Media & Online Marketing online course and learn how to build a successful online presence, grow your customer base, and sell more product.

This course is for aspiring, new, or experienced farmers, but it assumes participants will be beginner to intermediate social media/online marketing users who are interested in polishing and expanding their skills for increased social media traffic and online marketing for farm businesses. Students should have basic digital proficiency, including use of email, internet searches, and may already have some personal and/or business social media accounts set up, including Facebook, Instagram, etc. The course is not geared to advanced online marketing users and/or those who anticipate the majority of their farm sales to come from online sources.

The course is designed to improve your understanding of social media, online marketing ideas and tools that may increase sales and increase awareness about your business. From experienced farmers and farm service providers, you will learn:

  • Some of the more common tools and strategies to attract followers online,
  • How to drive customers to sales locations (online or real-life)
  • Marketing planning activities, including distribution, pricing, customer demographics and sales region.
  • Tips for improving photos, videos, graphics, memes, and more.

The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in Teachable, our online course platform. To add to the experience, live webinars will be held during the live instruction period — from January 14 to February 11, 2021, on Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. ET. These webinars allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real-time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

Meet the Instructor:

Rebecca Schuelke Staehr owns and operates Cayuga Pumpkin Barn, a seasonal vegetable farm and roadside stand in Springport, Cayuga County, NY. Rebecca and her husband Ed own an operate a grain crop farm, Staehr Family Farm. Corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and more and grown using conventional farming practices, certified organic, and certified non-GMO farming. She has worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension and the NY Farm Viability Institute. She is a past chair of CADE, the Center for Agricultural Development & Entrepreneurship. Rebecca serves on the board of Cayuga County Farm Bureau. She has taught classes in business planning, time management for beginning farmers, starting a farmstead cheese/dairy value-added operation, and more.

Meat Goat Production and Management Home Study Course

Interested in running a meat goat operation? Meat Goat Production and Management Home Study Course, is for goat producers interested in improving their production practices and ultimately the profitability of their operation. This is a home study corse with an additional offering of three optional supplemental webinars to review materials.

When:  Wednesday, February 3, 2021 – Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Registration Deadline:  Monday, January 25, 2021
For more information please visit Meat Goat Production and Management.

Small Bites – What’s Important Now? 

Authored by Coach Abby Sadauckas

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.

As the days get shorter, there is more time in the evening to begin the process of reflection and planning. I’m not feeling particularly motivated to do this type of work until I think of what I’d like to avoid in the next farming season! Examples include scheduling poultry processing on days without an employee or ordering feeders for broilers before we need them, rather than a week after it’s impacting their growth.

For each of us, the motivation for planning will be different. This article with 7 steps to get you started from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension helps you think through what’s important now. This activity can be done with your farm team or with the assistance of a farm coach.

How will you ensure that 2021 will build on what you learned in 2020 and where you found success and challenge?  Schedule an appointment with a farm coach today!

Maine Drought and Agriculture Survey

You are being invited to participate in the Maine Drought and Agriculture Survey, a research project led by Dr. Rachel Schattman (University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture. A group representing the University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is working together to assess, through this survey, the direct and indirect effects that drought has had on agricultural production in Maine over the past five years. The purpose of the research is to understand your perspective on how drought and water resources affected your farming operation over the past five years.
Variable weather intensified by a changing climate continues to be an issue for Maine agricultural producers.  This has made growing conditions challenging, and leads to a lot of uncertainty regarding yields, quality, and ultimately marketability. It’s important that we understand how these conditions are impacting Maine producers.
We ask that you participate in this survey collecting this valuable information. You must be a farmer in Maine who is at least 18 years of age or older to participate in the survey. The survey is confidential and anonymous.
The survey will include general questions and then requests that you identify your primary crop (plant or animal) which will connect you to more specific questions related to your crop. The survey should be completed by January 11, 2021. Preliminary results will be presented during a session at the virtual Ag Trade Show in January 2021. A final report will be made publicly available in Spring 2021. Individual responses will remain confidential.
The results of our work will identify opportunities for investment in water resources in Maine, such as reviving programs that assist with pond construction or irrigation infrastructure. The information gained through this survey will be used to inform future outreach and education around these specific issues. We hope you will take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with us. The survey will take ~30 minutes to complete. Please note that because the survey branches to different questions by commodity, there is no “Go back to the previous question” button.
Thank you in advance for your time,
Rachel Schattman
Questions? Contact; 207-581-2913
Please follow this link to take the survey
Research Consent Information (Please download a PDF version of this information for your records)
The full link to the survey is:

Zoom Focus Group for Vegetable Farmers

Researchers at the University of Maine and University of New Hampshire are looking for vegetable farmers (not organic) to participate in a Zoom focus group discussion on ‘natural climate solutions.’ The purpose of this focus group is to better understand farmer challenges and barriers to adoption of practices that build soil health and contribute to climate resilience. Participating farmers will be compensated with a $100 Visa gift card for their time. Focus group participation is limited to 10 farms and compensation is on a per-farm basis.

When: 2:00-4:00pm on Monday, January 4, 2021

RSVP by filling out this google form:

Questions? Contact Natalie Lounsbury at or 207-577-4708.

Maine Hay Directory

Due to the drought this summer, there seems to be a shortage of available hay for livestock producers.
The Maine Hay directory
lists suppliers in Maine. We are constantly trying to keep the listing accurate and up-to date as many of the usual suppliers are “sold”out”
The directory has an interactive map as well as a new spreadsheet that you can print out for clients that want the information in that format.

Contingency Plan Guides

Whether you have livestock on a farm or animals in an urban setting, there may come a time when you or family members are unable to care for them. Or you may want to just take a vacation, and need someone to feed and water them for a few days…
Regardless, who would come onto the farm or yard to take care of your animals if that were to  happen?
To help alleviate this potential problem, the University of Minnesota Extension Livestock Team has created a set of contingency plan templates, that you can use as a guide to create a detailed guide for providing husbandry for your animals.
There are contingency plan forms for cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, horses, and Bees. You can find the forms at:

CARES Act Infrastructure Reimbursement Program

The State has allocated $10 million in federal CARES Act funding for an Agriculture and Food Processing Infrastructure Reimbursement Program. The program is offering up to $100,000 in reimbursements to Maine food and agriculture businesses that have recently invested in infrastructure purchases or projects due to market disruptions caused by COVID-19 and in response to the public health emergency.

Reimbursable costs shall be incurred from March 1, 2020 through December 18, 2020 and must improve food supply resilience during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This program is administered by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) on behalf of DECD and is open to Maine businesses that have incurred new, unanticipated expenses directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

USDA Extends Deadline for Seafood Trade Relief Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a one-month extension to the signup period for the Seafood Trade Relief Program, which supports the U.S. seafood industry and fishermen impacted by retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments. Fishermen can now signup for the program through January 15, 2021.

To date, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has paid more than $140 million on nearly 6,000 applications, with approximately 2,700 applications in process. USDA considered several factors in extending the deadline, such as the reliance of potential applicants on postal mail service and the fact that the fishing season just recently ended in Alaska, which represents the largest pool of potential applicants. Additionally, many potential applicants are new to FSA and may need additional time to establish eligibility.

USDA is continuing to work with SeaGrant Extension Agents and other partners to promote the program and help fishermen apply once they come off the water.

For more information on the program, including guidance on how to apply, visit or call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.

Beginning Quickbooks for Ag Businesses

Next Session: 
Fridays, Jan. 15-Feb. 5, 2021, 10:30 am to noon.
Course fee: $100
More information and registration.

This online course will teach farmers how to set up a bookkeeping system using the desktop version of QuickBooks. Online classes will run for 90 minutes, with an additional 30 minutes before each class starts for optional individual questions with instructors. Additional materials including instructional videos and practice problems will be given to participants to complete between online sessions.

Class size is limited to ensure that participants receive individualized instruction in this online format.

If you have questions about the suitability of this course for your situation, the QuickBooks software, or if accommodations are required, please contact Kelly McAdam at or (603) 527-5475.

Growing Places:  A Short, Online Course for Aspiring  and Start-up Farmers

Next Session: Jan. 11-Feb. 7, 2021
Registration: $100 by 12/22/2020; $150 starting 12/23/2021

Register now.

The Growing Places Course helps beginning women farmers and ranchers learn the nuts and bolts of successful farm business start-up. Participants learn about goal setting and decision making, financial and business management, risk management, accessing capital and credit, and marketing.

Participants are welcome from anywhere in the US. Online sessions are instructor-led, but the course format allows you to complete each week’s work when it fits in your schedule. Optional weekly webinars provide opportunities for “real-time” interaction with the instructor and other students. These sessions are recorded so that all participants have access to the information.

You will also have opportunities to connect with a local coach as you proceed with your farm development plan.

Find more information at “Classes” page of the UVM Extension New Farmer Project website. Financial assistance is available for qualified applicants, waiving all but $50 of the course fee. To request a disability-related accommodation, please contact UVM Student Accessibility Services at or call (802) 656-7753.

Application Reminder – Corona Virus Food Assistance Program 2

Don’t Miss Out!  Producers have until Friday, December 11, 2020, to apply for USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Round 2.

Payments under CFAP2 will go to producers of crops in three categories:

  • Price trigger commodities: Major commodities producers will qualify for payments based on documented price declines.
  • Flat rate crops: Producers of certain crops (mostly grains) will be eligible for payments based on the size of their crop even if they can’t demonstrate a price drop.
  • Sales commodities: Specialty crop producers will qualify for payments based on 2019 gross sales.

Contact Maine’s Farm Credit East field offices with questions.

Additional Application Resources are available at:

The Four Gs – A Tool for Collaboration

Authored by Coach Abby Sadauckas

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.

The Four Gs is an activity included in the book, People & Permaculture written by Looby Macnamara in 2012. The concept is simple and the activity is powerful! What does it do? In a group it is helpful to understand the motivations, concerns and parameters of others. Anybody else experience collaboration fatigue? Did you think everyone was on the same page about project goals?

Sitting down with this tool can help identify, in a non-confrontational manner where differences of opinion or approach are, either before you get started or once things go off track.

To use the tool, take a sheet of paper and divide into four sections by folding or by drawing a grid. Working clockwise, write a heading in each quadrant – Gives, Gains, Groans and Guidelines.

  • Gives include what you’re willing to bring to the project to ensure success- this might include your marketing skills.

  • Gains are what you hope to achieve, whether that is a personal goal or one you feel is critical to the project’s success. In other words, what do you get out of your participation?

  • Capturing the “groans” is key at the start of a collaboration. What are you worried about? Are there experiences you’ve had, didn’t enjoy and would like to avoid? Share those here!

  • Guidelines are where you can identify what works for you and it is helpful to include specifics. For example, I love a deadline, I want it in writing and I want others to hold themselves accountable. What’s important to you? Capture it in the guidelines.

The 4Gs can be used at the start of the project, at seasonal shifts on your farm, or when you need an open way to hear from collaborators about how a project may be going.

Want help to implement the 4G’s on your farm? Reach out to the farmcoaching team to set-up a free consultation and a step-by-step setup of your own 4Gs activity.

Maine Grant Programs

Leveraging additional CARES Act funding, this $40 million grant program is intended to help businesses that have been hard-hit by COVID-19, and is focused specifically on supporting Maine’s service sector small businesses, such as restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, lodging and retail shops.

Applications open at 9:30 am on Wednesday, December 2nd, and funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more information and to apply visit CEI Maine.

Maine Farm Emergency Grants

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) are offering emergency grants to assist farmers impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis, including those who have experienced sales losses, increased expenses and/or other challenges during 2020, and who anticipate needing to make further changes and adjustments for 2021.

 After offering an initial round of grants in spring 2020, we are opening up applications for a second round of emergency grants in December 2020. This will be a selective process, as funds are limited, and grants of up to $2,000 per farm will be awarded. Farmers who received a grant in the spring are eligible to apply again, though preference will be given to new applicants. The eligibility requirements have changed to include those who have not participated in MOFGA or MFT programs, but meet all other eligibility requirements and are a beginning farmer or farmer who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color.

Applications are due Monday, December 14th at 11:59pm with decisions and notifications of awards expected by the week of December 21st.

See the application form for more information & to submit your application:

 Eligibility Requirements:

– Farm is located in Maine.

– Farm income represents at least 10% of household income.

-Farm intends to remain in business.

-Farms have expenses related to COVID-19 mitigation or adaptations that have occurred or will occur.

– Farms must have been or are actively participating in MOFGA or MFT programs (see application for a list of programs), OR applicant is beginning farmer (defined by USDA as someone who has been operating their farm or ranch for 10 or fewer years) OR applicant identifies as a Black, Indigenous or Person of Color farmer.

Timeline:  Applications are due Monday, December 14th at 11:59pm with decisions and notifications of awards expected by the week of December 21st.