The Somerset Newsflash, June 2024

Important Dates


The News

UMaine Extension Launches New Podcast

University of Maine Cooperative Extension has launched the Maine Farmcast, a podcast that features weekly conversations with experts from across the country sharing insights and advice for both new and seasoned farmers running operations of any size.

“This is a way to share conversations around the livestock industry that relate to research, production, nutrition, reproduction, diseases, husbandry and economics,” explains Colt Knight, associate Extension professor and state livestock specialist, who started the podcast with his colleagues Glenda Pereira, assistant Extension professor and state dairy specialist, and Rachel White, assistant Extension professor of sustainable agriculture.

“Our goal is to bring not only expertise, but also practical advice about how to apply cutting-edge research to improve the efficiency and sustainability of farming operations,” says Pereira.

Dean of Extension Hannah Carter adds, “One unique aspect of the services Extension provides is the large number of local connections our staff make with people in communities all across the state. As the world relies more and more on digital technologies, especially for communication, we need to embrace new and evolving opportunities to reach out to the people who benefit most from our work. The Maine Farmcast will do just that.”

Topics discussed on the podcast will include latest research results and ongoing projects; practical information about day-to-day operations, as well as guidance about emerging issues like H5N1 outbreaks. Hosts will interview fellow Extension educators from across the country, industry professionals, researchers and farmers.

“Farmers are busy folks who don’t always have time to check emails, read scientific journals, or go to educational seminars,” says Knight. “Podcasts are a way for farmers to listen to up-to-date information on-the-go while working, driving or operating equipment.”

A primary focus of the Maine Farmcast is to reach livestock farmers, but the diverse conversations will relate to anyone wanting to learn more about the ins and outs of livestock production including other extension agents, educators, agricultural service providers and the general public. If you would like to share an idea for a future podcast or have any other questions, email the team at

To learn more and listen to all episodes, visit the podcast website. Maine Farmcast is also available on most major podcast players including Apple and Spotify.

UMaine Disease Diagnostic Lab Fee Update

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab identifies diseases on plant samples submitted to the lab. It provides a management plan in the form of a diagnostic report to gardeners, farmers, the lawn care industry, and nurseries. The lab’s mission is to enhance the success of Maine agricultural industries and gardeners by reducing losses to plant diseases and minimizing disease management costs by providing early and accurate disease identification.

In 2023, the lab received over 800 physical samples from nine different states. In addition, the lab developed a digital submission where clients could upload images for a plant disease diagnosis, resulting in 400 digital submissions. This past year also resulted in more first detections of diseases in the state than any other year, which included a new fungal disease on tomatoes and fir trees. The lab also provided confirmation testing for Beech leaf disease for the Maine Forest Department which was previously being sent out of state for testing. The lab confirmed Beech leaf disease in five counties in 2023. The lab also added three new molecular tests for improved virus and nematology detection.

As diagnostics evolves, so too does the cost of carrying those tests. Starting May 1, 2024, the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab will start charging $18 for general in-state samples, and general out-of-state sample fees will be increased to $38. Garlic seed testing fees will increase to $38 for in-state samples and $68 for out-of-state samples. The lab is also implementing a fee of $8 for all digital submissions. The lab also offers various additional specialized tests. These tests and their associated fees can be found on the webpage. We are proud to have been the only lab in New England to be able to waive general in-state samples as long as we have. Still, due to rising lab costs, we need to implement a partial cost recovery to ensure the lab continues to support Maine agriculture and gardeners.

Join Us in the Exhibition Hall at the Common Ground Country Fair

Start thinking of your entries now!

All farmers and gardeners, new or experienced, young or old, commercial or backyard, are invited to bring the bounty and beauty of their crops and preserved foods to display at the Common Ground Exhibition Hall. Art, photos and crafts are also welcome.

Full article and and Exhibition Hall Guidelines here.

The News in Agriculture

2024 Pasture Walk Series

Dr. Jaime Garzon, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Forage Specialist, will lead five pasture walks across the state this summer. Come to meet and learn about the production system and forage management of the host farms. These programs will focus on identifying forage species in the field and highlighting climate-smart practices, regenerative grazing, and more.

We welcome local farmers to come out and offer your advice and experiences, as well as to hear what it’s like to work with local ag services. Whether you are a beginner or experienced farmer, or simply interested in the topic, we welcome you!

Pasture Walk in Monmouth – July 10 @ 11:00 a.m.

Pasture Walk in New Vineyard – July 23 @ 11:00 a.m.

Pasture Walk in Searsmont – August 6 @ 11:00 a.m.

Pasture Walk in Freeport, – August 13 @ 11:00 a.m.

Pasture Walk in Thomaston – August 20 @ 11:00 a.m.

For more information, visit the webpage.

Maine Farmers Market Price Report is Looking for Farmers to Submit Price Data

Calling all farmers to share data with the Maine Farmers Market Price Report for the 2024 season (the online Report is hosted by UMaine Extension and is available here). This year, the collaborative project (led by MOFGA, MFFM, UMaine, DACF and UMaine Extension) aims to recruit up to 50 producers who sell their vegetables, fruits, herbs, meat, eggs or dairy at farmers markets, statewide, to share their prices directly through a new online reporting tool. If you sign up, we are able to pay you $30 for every 5 submissions of data (once a week for 5 weeks), plus a $50 bonus at the end of the season if you submitted at least for 20 weeks of our 22 week reporting season. All registered participants will receive an email and/or text message every Monday from MFFM, requesting your price data for the previous week’s market via a link to the submission form (and once you’ve submitted for the first time, your previous weeks’ price data will be saved to make it easier). Here in Maine, there continues to be high demand for current farm pricing information, which is valuable to multiple stakeholders including farmers, customers, wholesale buyers, and business development services –please consider participating in providing this useful and essential information!

Register to participate here!

The News in 4-H

Maine 4-H Days is Happening in 2024!4H Clover

Where: Windsor Fairgrounds, Windsor, Maine
When: Friday evening, July 19 – Saturday, July 20. Animal Science tracks are being scheduled
from Friday, July 19 – Sunday, July 21.

Registration now open! Register online by June 22. Open to families who are interested in 4-H but not enrolled yet as well! We can’t wait to see you there!

Summer Learning Series Virtual Programming

Registration begins on June 3. Open to non-4-H youth as well as enrolled members. There are some excellent offerings this year! Learn more on the Summer Learning webpage.

Summer Camp Scholarships Available for Bryant Pond and Greenland Point

Scholarships are available to assist families in joining us on an unforgettable journey at 4-H Camp this summer, where bonds are forged, adventures abound, and memories are made.

Unlock Your Opportunity: Limited Scholarships Available!

  • First time camper scholarships
  • Conservation Education scholarships sponsored through the Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for select programs
  • Community scholarships by region
  • 4-H Shooting Sports scholarships
  • Teen Multi week programs (full scholarships for those who qualify)

Spaces are limited. Register today to secure your spot!

For more information, visit the Bryant Pond or Greenland Point websites.

For more 4-H news, check out 4-H Happenings, our monthly 4-H newsletter for Somerset County.

The News in Homemakers

Homemaker LogoExtension Homemakers is a volunteer group that develops leadership skills, supports community causes, and promotes UMaine Extension’s educational programs in nine Maine counties. These organized programs are part of the statewide network of Extension Homemakers.

Local group members meet throughout the year to participate in educational programs and identify community projects, such as providing assistance to local food pantries, nursing homes, or veterans groups, or funding educational scholarships or youth camp programs.

Volunteer in Somerset County!

Would you or someone you know like to become more engaged in volunteerism throughout Somerset County? Consider joining Homemakers! The Somerset County Extension Homemakers are always welcoming new members. Please visit the Maine Extension Homemakers website for general information about the program or reach out to the Somerset County Extension Homemakers President, Rita Fortin with any questions or to express interest. Rita can be reached at 207.453.2945 or at You may also contact the Maine Extension Homemakers Coordinator, Lisa Fishman at 800.287.1421 or at