2020 Beginning Farmer Workshops at the Ag Trades Show

State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show

AUGUSTA — The Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN), a coalition of agricultural agencies in Maine, will host free workshops and offer consultation services to Maine’s newest farmers January 14–16, 2020 during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, Augusta.

Two January 15, 2020 workshops will focus on multiple aspects of farm labor. Four January 16, 2020 workshops will examine cybersecurity of electronic sales, farming in a changing climate, working with municipalities on local farm policy, and collaborating with national partners. All workshops feature current farmers and service providers.

“Beginning farmers know better than anyone that there is no instruction manual for the first decade in agriculture,” says Tori Lee Jackson, University of Maine Cooperative Extension associate professor of agriculture and natural resources, and BFRN member. “As a coalition, the Beginning Farmer Resource Network works to help aspiring and beginning farmers find their ‘farm business success’ in an easy and practical manner.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a beginning farmer is someone who has operated a farm for 10 years or fewer. The most recent USDA Agricultural Census indicated nearly one-third of farmers in Maine reported 10 years’ or fewer of experience on their present farm.

Registration is not necessary. For more information, visit the UMaine Extension BFRN website, or contact Tori Jackson, 207.353.5500, tori.jackson@maine.edu.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 11:00am-12:30pm

Increasing your Scale and Efficiency with Mechanization

Learn about the decision-making process when taking the plunge towards mechanization. Farmers will discuss tools and equipment that have reduced their need for labor, reduced the wear and tear on their bodies, and increased their productivity. We will also focus on techniques used to ensure return on that investment. Speakers: Jason Lilley, Lani Carlson, others TBA.


  • Sean Murphy, Murphy Family Farm
  • Pheonix and Meg O’Brien, Hall Brook Farm
  • Ellen Gibson, AgrAbility
  • Jason Lilley, UMaine Cooperative Extension

Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 1:00-3:00pm

Employment Law for the Farm

Agricultural labor laws can be confusing. Do you have questions about fair labor standards act, overtime, exempt work, workers compensation, and payroll tax? Hear from experts in the field on these topics and more. Get your questions answered.  Join US Department of Labor staff and attorney members of the Legal Services Food Hub as we untangle the web of labor laws concerning employees, interns, apprentices, independent contractors. Get specifics on the fair labor standards act, overtime, exempt work, workers compensation, payroll tax, and more. Get your labor questions answered!


  • John Lambert Jr., Lambert Coffin, Attorney
  • Steve McKinney, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
  • Seanna Crasnick, Maine Department of Labor, Deputy General Counsel, Workers Compensation Board

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 9:00-10:00am

Point of Sale (POS) Options and Opportunities in the Digital Age

You can download a smartphone app and start processing credit card transactions on your in under 20 minutes. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in the value of these programs for capturing valuable sales and customer data for your farm enterprise. In this session, we’ll hear from farmers on how they use their POS apps to conduct transactions, track sales, engage their customers, and plan for growth. Cybersecurity concerns and risk management best practices will be shared.


  • Abby Sadauckas, Apple Creek Farm
  • Kelby Young, Olde Haven Farm
  • Brittany Hopkins, Wise Acres Farm
  • Greg Warren, Warren Associates & Insurance Solutions
  • John Heller, American National Insurance

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 10:00-11:00am

Farming Right:  Municipal Ordinances, Zoning, and Other Considerations

Farming is a land use that is both supported and regulated by state laws and local ordinances. Gain new insights from service providers and farmers who are working with municipal officials to improve agricultural business opportunities in their communities. Join Jesse Tannenbaum, owner/operator of Eli’s Homestead in Lewiston; Misty Parker, Economic Development Manager for the City of Lewiston; Jeff Fisher, co-owner Bumbleroot Farm in Windham; Kate Newkirk, Soil Scientist and Co-Chair of the Winslow Agricultural Commission; and DACF service providers, Mark Hedrich, Caldwell Jackson, and Steph Gilbert; for a fruitful facilitated discussion about typical farm/municipality issues and useful strategies to move forward with success.

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 11:00-12:00pm

Implementing Conservation on Your Farm: Working with NRCS & FSA

Join Abby Sadauckas and Jake Galle of Apple Creek Farm and USDA service providers to learn how you can implement conservation practices on your farm with financial and technical assistance from USDA. Abby and Jake will share how they have addressed resource concerns, improved infrastructure and made their farm vision possible by accessing financial assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and participating in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs. Following their presentation, Susan Arrants, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, and Robbie McCurry, FSA Agricultural Program Specialist, will join Abby and Jake on a panel to answer questions about how to get conservation practices in place on your farm.

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 1:00-2:00pm

A Beginning Farmer Focus Group on Climate Adaptation Resources

This participatory focus group will provide an opportunity to share experiences, identify resource needs, and provide feedback on draft educational materials related to climate adaptation on Maine farms. This focus group is part of a USDA-AFRI funded research project being conducted by the University of Vermont and the University of Maine. Speakers: Ruthie Clements, Rachel Schattman, Adam Daigneault, Eric Gallandt, Sonja Birthisel. Please pre-register by emailing sonja.birthisel@maine.edu; the first ten farmer registrants are eligible to receive $50 stipends for their participation.

BFRN Networking Room

Knox Room, January 14, 15, and 16

Farmers are welcomed to connect one-on-one with farmers and agricultural service providers and find resources for farm business success. A schedule with the service providers and topics will be posted outside the room.

What is a beginning farmer?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “a beginning farmer is someone who has operated a farm for ten years or less.” Since this definition is used for all USDA beginning farmer loan programs, it has become the most commonly accepted definition. Nearly one-third of the farmers in Maine reported having 10 years or less of experience on their present farm, according to the latest USDA 2012 Agricultural Census.

The Beginning Farmer Resource Network of Maine (BFRN) a coalition of Maine agricultural agencies & organizations working together to connect aspiring and beginning farmers to resources for farm business success.

For more information visit the BFRN website or contact Tori Jackson at 207.353.5500 or Stephanie Gilbert 207.287.7520.