Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Farmer Programs Newsletter for April 3, 2020

Hi folks,

Here is MOFGA's Farmer Programs Newsletter for the week ending April 3, 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

 

Financial Relief

 

  • Mini-grant program for livestock farmers, from FACT (Food Animal Concerns Trust). Up to $500 for materials, services or equipment to help develop alternative markets.  Limited to livestock and poultry farms.

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Applications are available starting today and farms are included. Loans are forgivable if used for continued payroll expenses, or will have a very low interest rate (0.5%) and two-year payback if funds are used for other approved purposes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has provided some guidance. Reach out to your local lender for an application.

  • If you are an agricultural cooperative, nursery or producer cooperative, you may apply for the SBA's Disaster Loan Assistance program.

 

Resources

 

 

Get on the Map!

 

 

Upcoming Webinars

 

  • MOFGA webinar on labor laws and COVID-19 Friday, April 10 at 3 p.m. FREE. Register here.

Limited to 35 participants; please register only if you plan to attend. Join our webinar addressing labor laws on the farm and COVID-19, geared toward established farmers. We will learn about the technicalities of labor law from Steven McKinney, the community outreach and resource planning specialist at the Maine Department of Labor. The focus of the day has shifted to labor laws and COVID-19, but as time allows McKinney will also cover numerous aspects of farm labor, including common mistakes employers make; pay issues; overtime exemptions and times when overtime may have to be paid; child labor restrictions; record keeping; field sanitation requirements; and special rules surrounding housing, labor contractor registration and/or transportation that may apply under the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act and the H-2A program.

 

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.

  • Composting in the Time of COVID-19 webinars April 7, 14 and 21 (past episodes available for viewing) FREE. Register here.

A four-part webinar series hosted by the U.S. Composting Council and covering

- Safe Procedures for Composting Feedstocks with Possible Coronavirus Contamination

- Composting IS an Essential Service

- Navigating COVID-19 for Small-Scale Food Scrap Collectors

- The Re-Emergence of the Victory Garden.

 

Policy

 

  • USDA seeks nominations for NOSB

The USDA invites nominations of qualified people for five open seats on the National Organic Standards Board. The deadline is June 1, 2020. Find more info here.

  • Submit your farm stories in support of a bond measure for broadband expansion

The Maine Broadband Coalition is preparing for the upcoming ballot initiative (slated for the June 9 election) to dedicate $15 million to broadband expansion in Maine. The group hopes to include farmers' voices and stories. The current COVID-19 situation underscores the importance of broadband access for rural communities and farm businesses. Submit your story directly to Maine Broadband Coalition at [email protected].

 

Surveys

 

  • Top Research Priorities For Organic Seed Production 

The Organic Seed Alliance is partnering with the Organic Farming Research Foundation and Washington State University on two national surveys to identify the top research priorities for certified organic farmers and ranchers and for farmers and ranchers who are transitioning to organic certification.

If you have any questions about the surveys, please contact Lauren Scott.

Upon completing the survey, you can enter to win a $100 gift card to REI.

If you lack access to a computer and cannot complete the survey online, please call OFRF at 831-426-6606.

  • What Farmers Need for Wholesale Selling

Researchers at Cornell University are conducting a survey on what farmers need in a transaction when selling produce to a wholesaler or food hub. Questions relate to how you make marketing decisions on your vegetable farm. Earn a $20 Amazon gift card for taking this 20-minute survey, and let the researchers know what factors influence you to sell or not to sell to a wholesaler.

Contact Rebecca Wasserman Olin or Dr. Miguel Gomez with questions or comments.

 

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