Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Farmer Programs Newsletter for October 30, 2020

Hi folks, this is the Farmer Programs newsletter for October 30, 2020. There are many new funding opportunities, great events happening and opportunities for your input, so make sure to look through the entire bulletin! All of our back issues from 2020 are archived on the MOFGA website here. Please send inquiries, suggestions, corrections or advice regarding this newsletter to [email protected].


 

Events

 

  • Farmer to Farmer Conference. November 2, 4 and 6, 2020. Online. MOFGA's Farmer to Farmer Conference is known for its intimacy, in-depth treatment of topics and amazing discussions. This year we will go virtual: bringing together presentations, panels and breakout groups mixed with farmer-led discussion groups and 1-on-1 video chatting opportunities. Over three afternoons and evenings, there will be virtual farm tours, online exhibitors, community topic sites, custom meet-up opportunities and a short video contest! Keynote speaker Laura Lengnick, a scientist, author, educator and farmer, will explore climate change, resilience and the future of food through stories of adaptation of some of America’s best sustainable and organic farmers and ranchers – sharing a message of hope in these uncertain times. Registration required. Fee: Sliding scale options; scholarships available; and free to JP/MFRP participants, BIPOC farmers, and Veteran farmers.

  • Farmland Access & Transfer Conference. November 16 to 18, 2020. Online. Hosted by Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good, this is the 6th annual conference where farmers, landowners and farm advocates across New England can learn, collaborate and explore solutions to the challenges of farmland access and transfer. Acknowledging the history of land injustice and theft that has shaped access to land throughout the history of our country, this year’s conference will highlight diverse voices and perspectives on farmland access through a land justice plenary and workshops where speakers will share individual stories and experiences. Registration required. Fee: sliding scale (free to $45).

  • Maine Farm to School Strategic Planning Event. November 5, 2020. Online. Join Maine Farm to School leaders for a half day of virtual networking and interactive group activities to define the priorities of the Maine Farm to School Network for the coming years (2020 to 2023). Open to all Maine farm to school stakeholders. Registration required. Free of charge.

  • 2020 Online Biodynamic Conference. November 12 to 15, 2020. Online. Hosted by the Biodynamic Association, this year’s virtual conference will feature inspiring keynote speakers, interactive small-group conversations, themed workshops, virtual exhibits, and updates and opportunities to engage with the unification of the Biodynamic Association and Demeter USA. Registration deadline: November 5, 2020. Fee: $125 (scholarships available; discount for Biodynamic Association members).

 

Resources

 

  • Maine Produce Safety Improvement Grant Program now open. MOFGA’s new food safety grant program helps farms who grow any of the USDA defined specialty crops (which include most fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, medicinal plants, nursery, floriculture and horticulture crops) to: implement on-farm food safety practices, transition to compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and/or meet market demands for on-farm food safety. Farms with at least $10,000 annual gross sales of specialty crops can apply for up to $7,000 in funds. Application deadline: December 15, 2020.

  • Technical Assistance Grant Program available. MOFGA’s Technical Assistance (TA) grant program helps farmers and food entrepreneurs access professional technical assistance (i.e., business planning; market research and development; production and scaling up assistance; and accessing new wholesale and institutional markets). This year, there are two funding pools with different eligibility requirements: one for certified organic businesses with direct or wholesale markets (with grant awards up to $2,000) and another for any farm accessing new wholesale/institutional markets (with grant awards up to $1,000). Application opens: November 2, 2020. Application deadline: November 29, 2020.

  • Business of Farming Workshop (formerly “Farming for Wholesale 101”) is accepting applications. Hosted by Maine Farmland Trust, this comprehensive series of online workshops and business planning assistance is for experienced farmers who want to analyze their current business model and use the information for decision making. Drawing on a panel of business experts from around the state, as well as other growers, you’ll uncover the story your financial records are telling you and develop your ability to make strategic business decisions that move you in the direction of your goals. The program runs from January through February, 2021, and is open to farmers interested in any markets. Fee: $500 (scholarships and assistance available), with $1,000 seed grant awarded upon completion. Application deadline: December 14, 2020.

  • Farm Beginnings Program is now accepting applications. Hosted by MOFGA, this eight-week online course will help you develop a whole farm plan through realistic goal-setting, reflection, and assessment of your resources, skills, and markets – and gives you the business planning tools necessary to successfully implement your plan. This is a farmer-led program designed for beginning farmers, with at least one year of production experience and records of their own, to help guide your strong commitment to creating a sustainable farm business and achieve your goals. Fee: $750 (scholarships available). Application deadline: December 1, 2020.

  • Emergency Drought Assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency now available for farms in Maine. There are several drought assistance programs and loans, including Emergency Livestock Assistance, Non-insurable Crop Assistance and the FSA Emergency Loans which can be used to restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the drought, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation and/or refinance certain debts. Contact your local FSA office for more information.

  • Marketing Mini-Grant Program now open. New Ventures Maine (NVME) has a small grant fund for businesses with 5 or fewer full-time employees and less than $250,000 annual sales to support new or expanded business marketing and promotion. Up to $1,000 will be awarded in each of six regions (Central, Midcoast, Downeast, Northern, Southern and Western) to strengthen access to markets for micro-businesses by supporting the development of marketing tools, materials, and activities. Application deadline: November 6, 2020.

  • Northeast SARE Farmer Grant Program now open. This annual USDA-funded program provides up to $15,000 to farmers to explore new ideas in almost any aspect of production, marketing and other topics that influence successful farming. Reviewers look for innovation, potential for improved sustainability and results that will be useful to other farmers. For questions regarding the program and application, contact the SARE Outreach Coordinator for Maine,Tom Molloy, at [email protected] or 207-581-3213. Application deadline: November 17, 2020.

  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP2) now open. This is a renewed and expanded relief fund from the USDA for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19. Administered through the FSA, this grant fund is a separate program from the first CFAP program, and has been expanded to include hundreds of crops and livestock products – most Maine small farms should be eligible to apply (use the CFAP2 Eligible Commodities Finder). Payments will be based on your 2019 revenue and no longer require a documented price loss. You can apply to CFAP2 whether or not you applied to the first CFAP program. Applications are to be filed through your local FSA office. Application deadline: December 11, 2020.

  • Fund-A-Farmer Grant Program now open. The Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) has begun a new round of grants of up to $2,500 to eligible livestock and poultry farmers for projects that help to improve pasture, expand animal welfare and/or build capacity of their operations. Projects can include improvements such as building mobile housing, constructing fences, laying water lines on pasture and much more. Farmers located in the U.S. who raise beef cattle, bison, broiler chickens, dairy cows, goats, laying hens, pigs, turkeys and/or sheep may be eligible to apply. Grants will be awarded in February 2021. Application deadline: December 1, 2020.

  • Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program. UMaine Extension has set up 16 drop-off sites around the state (including MOFGA in Unity) to accept your used, clean, dry low-density polyethylene #4 (LDPE #4). Disposal is free of charge, and participants must pre-register online or by calling 207-342-5971. The program’s goal is to collect at least one-third of Maine’s annual waste greenhouse plastic, and partner with an end-user who can convert the collected plastic into resin feedstock used in the manufacture of new plastic products. Program runs through December 15, 2020.

  • Small Bites are short, informational articles offering practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication and family well-being written by coaches from UMaine Cooperative Extension’s farm coaching team. Four new posts are available: “End of Season - Goodbye Till Spring?” (authored by Polly Shyka); “Stress” (authored by Leslie Forstadt); “The Eisenhower Box” (authored by Polly Shyka); and “There’s No ‘I’ in...Team Building with Collaboration on the Farm” (authored by Polly Shyka and Leslie Forstadt). Farm coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

  • MOFGA’s COVID-19 Resource Document for Farmers, compiled by MOFGA’s Farmer Programs staff, is a clearinghouse of almost every topic and issue related to farming during the COVID-19 crisis, with links, information and resources about insurance, employees, farmers’ markets, online marketing, loans and grants, etc. We update it regularly – the newest updates are highlighted in yellow. Resources that may be of particular interest to farmworkers are highlighted in green.

 

Get on the Map!

 

 

Webinars

 

  • Online Produce Safety/FSMA Training. December 11 and 18, 2020. Hosted by UMaine Extension and Maine DACF, this two-part course will provide a foundation of farm food safety best practices and co-management information; Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule requirements; and details on how to develop a farm food safety plan. Currently the best way to satisfy the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirement is for all farms to have at least one person successfully complete a USDA-approved training, such as this Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course. Fee: $20. Registration closes: November 29, 2020.

 

Opportunities for Farmer Input

 

  • Blueberry Trade Investigation Questionnaire. For all producers and processors of blueberries: wild or cultivated, fresh or frozen. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is investigating fresh, chilled and frozen blueberries to determine whether there are imports into the U.S. in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury or the threat of serious injury to the domestic industry producing wild and cultivated blueberries. If you produce or process blueberries and would like to have your voice heard, fill out the questionnaire. It is long and will take time, and assistance is available. Responses are due by November 16, 2020.

  • Strawberry Growers Survey. As part of a new SARE-funded project, researchers at UNH, UVM and Cornell have designed this survey to better understand the diversity of practices used and challenges faced in strawberry production in the Northeastern U.S. and Canada. Your input will help them design research and outreach programs to provide the best resources for improving strawberry production on your farm. It should only take about 15 minutes to complete, and you can enter to win some prizes.

 

Opportunity to Sell Farm Products

 

MOFGA is opening a pop-up store for the holiday season in downtown Freeport and we are looking for MOFGA certified organic producers who might be interested in selling their products on consignment. All products are welcome, except perishable food items. The storefront will be open from approximately the first week of November through mid-January. We will work to accommodate as many vendors as possible, but cannot guarantee space for everyone. If you are interested in selling your products on consignment at the pop-up store, please email Lucy at [email protected].

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