2017-2018 Statewide Highlights
Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory
Accurate and early detection of animal diseases is important in limiting or eradicating the impacts of disease. With Maine’s continued growth of small farms getting animal health information into the hands of farmers is vitally important, as is having a state conduit for veterinarians to learn about livestock disease.
The Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory serves the state’s veterinarians, livestock producers, and animal owners by performing diagnostic services that include necropsy, microbiology, virology, pathology, and special research support. Through Extension it links with industry to help control animal health related problems. A new Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and
Research Laboratory will expand services to serve Maine’s over 8,000 farms.
In 2017, the lab tested over 10,000 samples, the majority of which were from farm animals. It tested over 7,000 poultry samples and over 3,000 milk samples, thus allowing farms of all sizes to operate with more assurance of healthy animals and healthy products. Poultry farms were able to meet their FDA-requirements for salmonella testing locally. Sheep and goat owners were able to find out whether their animals have enteric parasites, and what to do about it.
So You Want to Farm in Maine?
Current farmers thinking about changing farm enterprises and new farmers interested in starting a farm often lack skill, knowledge and confidence in areas such as access to capital, rules and regulations affecting agriculture operations, and marketing.
Since 2011, UMaine Extension has provided diverse educational outreach through its “So You Want to Farm in Maine” series to enhance the skills, business management knowledge, and confidence of new and established farmers.
These Extension programs are live, live-streamed and archived, and reached 754 participants from all Maine counties (including Piscataquis) and out-of-state. Topics included agriculture enterprise selection, business planning, record keeping, market research, regulations, and resource identification.
In the fourth year, when the training qualified as FSA borrower training, farmers with FSA loans were able to complete their loan requirements and received nearly $760,000 in farm loans.
The fall of 2018 the “So You Want to Farm in Maine?” course is being offered in five counties. Contact a county office near you for details
Helping Grain Growers Expand to Serve High Value, Specialty Markets
The growing demand for locally grown and processed small grains, such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat, represents an economic opportunity for Maine and Piscataquis farmers. Current and aspiring small grain farmers face a continuing need to improve their skills and capacities with grains that meet the quality standards of high-value specialty markets such as baking, brewing, and distilling for human consumption, as well as organic feed for dairy and egg production.
Grain farmers, processors, and buyers improved their skills, markets, and business viability as a result of Extension’s Local Grains Program, including growing a new crop, changing a fertility, weed, or disease practice, and improving cleaning, drying and storage systems. These changes resulted in improved grain yields and quality, enhanced farm or grain business viability, and improved family quality of life. For organic small grains, production, yields, and value have increased dramatically in Maine over the last 5 years.
- 2/3 of the processors reported having increased purchases and developed new sources and markets
- Maine grew 3.6 times more organic small grains compared with 2011 (1423 vs. 498 tons), on 2.5 times more acres
- 20% increase in yield
- $800,000 total value of organic small grains and pulses produced by Maine farmer
Gives Youth a Preview of the College Experience
Education after high school is critical to supporting skilled jobs in Maine. Engaging youth in getting college degrees helps to grow and strengthen Maine’s businesses and economy. Unfortunately, the number of Maine high school graduates enrolled in higher education lags at 40th in the nation. Although research recommends beginning to address college and career aspirations in elementary and middle grades, coordinating access to a college campus presents barriers for rural Maine communities.
UMaine Extension created 4-H@UMaine to provide a safe and supportive environment for Maine youth grades 6-12 to experience life on a college campus. Participants come to the UMaine campus and imagine the possibility of college attendance as they stay in campus residence halls, eat in the dining commons, get active in the student recreation center, and participate in hands-on workshops with UMaine students, staff, and faculty. While they are there, Extension also fosters healthy relationships using small-group settings led by trained adult leaders and teenage peer mentors.
In 2017, 4-H@UMaine hosted 55 youth (grades 6-10), 15 Teen Leaders (grades 9-12) including 4 Teen Leaders from Piscataquis County, and 27 adult staff and volunteers. In addition to the traditional youth experience for grades 6-10, college-ready teens took part in an exclusive experience that included pre-event training, planning roles as youth mentors, and workshops to further develop leadership skills and connect with campus staff. Of those attending 4-H@UMaine:
- 92% of all the youth indicated they learned about new career possibilities, helping to raise their career aspirations.
- 91% plan to go to college.
Photo credits: Edwin Remsberg, Donna Coffin, Trisha Smith, Colt Knight & Kathy Hopkins.
The County Extension Act
The County Extension Act explains the role of county government in funding local Extension offices.
Cooperative Extension work shall consist of the giving of practical demonstrations in agriculture and natural resources, youth development, and home economics and community life and imparting information on those subjects through field demonstrations, publications and otherwise. For the purpose of carrying out this chapter, there may be created in each county or combination of two counties within the State an organization known as a “county extension association,”and its services available to all residents of a county. The county extension is viewed as a unique and important educational program of county government. The executive committee of each county extension association shall prepare an annual budget as requested, showing in detail its estimate of the amount of money to be expended under this chapter within the county of counties for the fiscal year. The executive committee shall submit to the board of county commissioners on a date requested by the county commissioners, and the county commissioners may, if they deem it justifiable, adopt an appropriate budget for the county extension program and levy a tax therefore. The amount thus raised by direct taxation within any county or combination of counties for the purposes of this chapter shall be used for the salaries of clerks, provision of office space, supplies, equipment, postage, telephone, a contribution toward the salaries of county educators and such other expenses as necessary to maintain an effective county extension program.1
1Excerpted from Title 7, Chapter 7 of the Maine Revised Statutes, §191–§195.