Farm and Food Systems Newsletter — March 2020

apple farmer, pig farmer, tractor and driver
photos by Edwin Remsberg

A Huge Thank You to our Farmers!

I would like to give a big thanks to all of you who have been adjusting and providing safe food to the community during this time of need. This whole experience has just bolstered my view that local agriculture is essential as the backbone to response efforts during times of crisis. Keep doing the great work that you all are doing, and please let us know about anything that we can do to support you in that work. Here is information regarding some of the projects happening throughout the state and region to help us all navigate this new territory.

-Jason L.

Effect of COVID-19 on Farms- Impact Analysis Survey

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

As Covid-19 makes its way through our community, we acknowledge that farmers are faced with unique challenges in an unpredictable market. The following survey was made in collaboration with agricultural organizations and agencies across the state to better assess the impact this virus is having on Maine farms. This will provide a sense of how we can best support you through direct assistance and policy in this changing time. Take the Covid-19 Maine Farmer Survey.

Up-to-Date Information and Resources for Maine Farmers- COVID-19

The Covid-19 Maine Farmer Information and Support Resources document provides a streamlined list of resources to support farmers in the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes resources around food safety, recommendations and federal support programs. It is updated daily by agricultural organizations agencies across the state including the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. The list is updated several times daily. If you would like something added to this list as a resource, please email Click here for the Covid-19 Maine Farmer Information and Support resources.

New Directory for Local Farm Product and Pick-Up Options

peppers, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and canning jars
Photo by UMaine Extension staffUMaine Extension staff photo

Many farms across Maine have added alternative ways customers can obtain farm products to accommodate for social distancing in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maine farmers are updating this database in an effort to increase public access to their farm products during this time. You can view the website and map at this farm product directory webpage. As of Wednesday, March 25th there were 260 farm and seafood locations listed with 40,001 views to the page in the 6 days of its existence.

To have your farm added or to update directory information:

Complete the Farm Product and Pick-Up Options Form to have your farm added to the list. Please do not submit this form more than once.

If you have a problem with your submission, please contact or

If you need to edit a current entry, please contact Rebecca Gray at or 207.781.6099.
Many thanks to Allison Lakin of East Forty Farm and Dairy & Lakin’s Gorges Cheese for initiating this important resource!

Posting Labor Needs During this Time

The Department of Ag, Conservation and Forestry’s Farm Labor Link Network has a great directory of options for posting positions. Click on this link to list your positions with the State of Maine’s Job Link page. The Job Link team informed me they are still actively managing this list and are getting the word out about job opportunities. We at UMaine Extension and our partner agencies will be sure to promote that site to the general public over the next few weeks as well. UVM has put out a worker and food safety guidance doc that may act as a valuable worker training resource.

Willing to Help Dairy Farmers During the COVID-19 Outbreak? Contact UMaine Extension.

cows with portable milking machine
Portable Milking machine. Photo by Edwin Remsberg

Maine dairy farmers in urgent need of help taking care of routine chores are not able to simply stop operations. Dairy cows need to be fed and milked daily, and there are multiple other essential tasks. While many farmers in Maine have additional labor, others rely on themselves or immediate family members to continue to function.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association will facilitate getting in touch with potential short-term workers for Maine dairy farms without back-up labor options.

The UMaine Extension Waldo County office is compiling a list of available people with some experience on dairy farms, especially milkers. Names and contact information will then be shared with those dairy farmers requesting assistance. For more information or to participate, email

Farmer to Farmer Support


Remember to be looking out for your neighbors during this time. To check in on some farmer to farmer support options, please be sure to spend some time in the Maine Farm Product Spreadsheet where you will find information submitted by growers about their needs, and what they have to offer to assist others. Columns AB, AD, and AE contain information about “Hosting Farms”, “Emergency Needs”, and “Bulk Buying Options” that may be helpful within the community. Complete the Farm Product and Pick-Up Options Form to have your farm added to the list.

Tips and FAQ’s for Safe Food Handling and Marketing

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

I am hearing and seeing that many of you are dealing with greatly increased customer flow to your farms. I am also hearing about many creative setups to promote social distancing and maintain a safe environment for you and your family, crews, and customers to work and access your products. To help you in creating those safe environments, here are some helpful FAQ’s and best practices for food safety and marketing for producers of all types.

Some Non-COVID News

USDA Conducting its Biannual Agricultural Labor Survey

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct its biannual Agricultural Labor Survey during the second half of April. The survey will collect information about hired labor from approximately 4,000 farmers and ranchers across the 11-State Northeastern Region.

In the survey, NASS asks participants to answer a variety of questions about hired farm labor on their operations, including total number of hired farm workers, hours worked, and wages paid for the weeks of January 12-18 and April 12-18. For their convenience, survey participants have the option to respond online.

NASS will compile, analyze, and publish survey results in the May 28 Farm Labor report. All previous Farm Labor publications are available online at:

For more information on NASS surveys and reports, call the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office at 1-800-498-1518.


See the full USDA NASS Ag Labor Survey Press Release here.

Upcoming Webinars

Daily Farmer to Farmer Zoom Conversations (PDF)

UMaine Cooperative Extension wants to help keep you connected with other farmers. Here’s a chance to connect with other farmers and share what is working well for you and what is challenging you, or just chat. No registration is required!

Dig into Your Day…with Cover Crops & Conservation (PDF)

The University of Vermont Extension is offering a FREE Webinar Series!

This webinar series (PDF) will discuss current research on cover crops and conservation in various cropping systems, interesting findings, and common obstacles to implementing a successful cover crop and no-till program. Each webinar will be 30 minutes and will end with a 15 minute Q&A session.

Dates & Topics of the UVM Webinar Series Listed Below:

Monday, 3/24/20 9am to 9:45am – Precision Sustainable Agriculture with Steve Mirsky, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Thursday, 3/26/20 9am to 9:45am – Cover Crops in the Corn/Soybean Rotation with Peter Tomlinson, Kansas State University, Department of Agronomy

*Monday, 3/30/20 9am to 9:45am – Cover Crop Profitability with Rob Meyers, University of Missouri Extension, Agricultural Engineering

*Thursday, 4/2/20 9am to 9:45am – No-Till and Cover Crops in Organic Systems with Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University, School of Agriculture

*Monday, 4/6/20 9am to 9:45am – No-Till and Cover Crops in Vegetable Systems (Organic Focus) with Natalie Lounsbury, University of New Hampshire, Earth and Environmental Sciences

*Thursday, 4/9/20 9am to 9:45am – Stewarding the Birthplace of No-Till with John Young, Young Family Farm, Innovative No-Till Farmer from Herndon, Kentucky

Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) credits are available through online registration or by emailing your CCA number and farm name to within 2 days of the webinar.

Pre-register online at:

If you have questions before enrolling, please contact:

Heather Darby ( 802-524-6501

Jeff Sanders ( 802-524-6501

Catherine Davidson ( 802-524-6501

Susan Brouillette ( 802-524-6501