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Farmer Programs Newsletter for April 27, 2020

Hi folks,

Here is MOFGA’s Farmer Programs Newsletter for the week of April 27, 2020. During the current coronavirus pandemic, we aim to send this newsletter weekly, as so much is going on and changing. We will likely go down to twice a month when things settle down. Please send inquiries, suggestions, corrections or advice regarding this newsletter to [email protected]


MOFGA's Primary COVID-19 Resource Document for Farmers

The MOFGA Farmer Programs staff has compiled this clearinghouse of almost every topic and issue related to farming during the COVID-19 crisis, with links and information and resources about insurance, employees, farmers’ markets, online marketing, loans and grants, etc. We update it several times daily – newest updates in the resource document are highlighted in bold type.


Financial Relief


  • Maine Farm Emergency Grants are available to assist farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Through a collaborative effort by MOFGA and Maine Farmland Trust (MFT),  the funds of up to $2,000 can be used to assist farmers with a variety of unexpected costs or challenges. PLEASE NOTE: The application deadline is April 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Grants will be awarded during the week of May 4, 2020.
  • Renewal and Expansion of Federal aid to small businesses: The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program have been approved for more available funds, and both are open to farmer applications (under 500 employees). Apply as soon as possible, as the funds are expected to run out quickly again. More on the new additional EIDL funding here.




  • Low-Cost Options for Online Sales comparison. PDF produced by MOFGA, focusing on seven low-cost choices for farmers to quickly launch an online sales platform.
  • Seedling Sales Resource page produced by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in collaboration with MOFGA and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). Newly updated, including a recording of the webinar "Seedling Sales & Logistics" from 4/15/20. Lots of practical info, including useful, ready-to-print signage for your farm store or farmers' market booth.
  • Free invasive plant management plans available through local Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) in Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Somerset and Waldo counties.  All farmers and landowners in these counties who would like to learn more about the invasive plants on their farms and woodlands are encouraged to apply.  Services will identify and give guidance on managing invasive plant species like bittersweet, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and others.  Funded in part by the USDA NRCS, who has funds through an EQIP program for implementing the management plan. Contact your local SWCD office for details:

Somerset County: Joe Dembeck at [email protected] or 207.474.8323 ext. 3
Kennebec County: Dale Finseth at [email protected] or 207.621.9000
Knox and Lincoln Counties: Rebecca Jacobs at [email protected] or 207.596.2040
Waldo County: Aleta McKeage at [email protected] or 207.218.5311

  • Dept. of Homeland Security amends H2A requirements. Synopsis of recent changes and easements in requirements for H-2A workers during the COVID-19 crisis.  The actions are meant to minimize disruption to the nation's food production system and make sure farmers have access to these critical workers. Published by Douglas Plant Health. For questions regarding labor laws and changes during the current pandemic, contact the Dept. of Labor at 1-866-487-9243 or visit (On several Zoom meetings this week, Steven McKinney said that this phone line is well staffed, and the staff has about a 90% success rate answering calls on the first attempt!)


Get on the Map!



Upcoming Webinars


  • COVID-19 and Your Vendor Booth webinar. Hosted by Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets (MFFM). Monday, April 27, 6 p.m. Free.
  • EIDL for Farmers Affected by COVID-19 webinar. Hosted by Farm Commons. Wednesday, April 29, 2 p.m. Free.
  • PPP for Farmers Affected by COVID-19 webinar. Hosted by Farm Commons. Thursday, April 30, 2 p.m. Free.
  • Get Seen Online: 10 Tips for Your Food Business webinar.  Friday, May 1st, 10:00am to noon.  Hosted by Cornell Univ., free of charge.  The session will cover strategies you can implement to increase your visibility (for free or affordably), and touch on topics like search engines, social media marketing, business listings and other aspects of internet marketing.
  • Weekly Zoom meetings for farmers hosted by UMaine Cooperative Extension, Friday, May 1 at 10 am.  Farmers and others share what is happening on their farm, and what is and isn’t working well. This is a chance to chat with others throughout the state to stay connected in these difficult times. Often a guest presents and/or a topic is given. Past meeting notes are archived on its site.




  • COVID-19 Maine Farmer Survey - 2nd Round  A second, updated survey from the Beginning Farmers Resource Network, which is a collaborative effort between MOFGA, Univ. of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Farmland Trust and the Maine Dept. of Ag, Conservation & Forestry among others. IF YOU HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THIS SURVEY, PLEASE TAKE IT AGAIN. New questions have been added as we track changes over the past few weeks. Your input is vital as agricultural service providers in Maine would like to gather information to learn how they can best support farmers through direct assistance and policy in this unpredictable time. 
  • Hannaford Vendor Survey. Hannaford is gathering information from growers and processors, as it is seeking more local food from vendors and suppliers during the current pandemic. Interested farmers can complete the form, whether they have sold their products wholesale before or not. (Hannaford does require GAP certification but is somewhat flexible now if you haven't been GAP-certified, and Hannaford has some reimbursement funds for the costs.)
  • Maine DACF questionnaire for farms, food and forestry businesses on how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting your business and how the department can assist you.


Good News Dept.


  • Gorgeous Photos Show How Farms are Helping People during the COVID-19 Crisis. Recent BuzzFeed article and photo essay featuring many MOFGA-certified growers and staff member Bo Dennis. Great images of many farms’ various set-ups and ways of dealing with on-farm sales and minimal-contact food production and marketing. Written by Kate Olson, photos by Greta Rybus. We all need a little good news!
  • New Virtual Farmers Market in Lisbon. Recent Sun Journal article featuring MOFGA-certified Little Ridge Farm and the expansion of FarmDrop, the Maine-based online sales platform for local farms and food. According to the article, FarmDrop sales are up 500% from this time last year! One customer is quoted as saying she "plans to keep up with FarmDrop even after the pandemic passes." Written by Kathryn Skelton.
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