Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
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Farmer Programs Newsletter for June 12, 2020

Here is our newsletter for June 12, 2020. We are now issuing our Farmer Programs newsletter every two weeks, into the future. If you missed one or want to look up an item, the back issues are archived on this page. 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 are highlighted in yellow. Resources that may be of particular interest to farmworkers are highlighted in green.

 

Resources

 

  • Guidance for Ag Workers and Employers for COVID-19 from the federal CDC and federal Department of Labor. This recently released document contains recommended actions and protocols to help protect farmers and farm workers during the coronavirus outbreak, including how to create and implement a COVID-19 assessment and control plan. It also gives guidance on employee training, screening and monitoring, isolating and returning to work, use of PPE, cleaning tools and equipment, and special considerations for shared housing, transportation, special considerations for children, and more.
  • Improving Handwashing Stations is a new fact sheet and build guide by the University of Vermont Cooperative Extension. It is a comprehensive guide to the features and considerations needed in a portable handwashing station for workers and the public at farms, farm stands, farmers' markets, etc. It has many drawings and photos, plus budgets for both a wooden rack ($146) and a wire rack ($186) model.
  • MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) is moving! As of June 16, 2020, our new location will be back on the MOFGA campus at the annex building, located at 210 Crosby Brook Road (corner of Route 220 and Crosby Brook Road, by the windmill) in Unity. Our offices remain closed due to COVID-19, but if you have mail to drop off, you'll find our dropbox at the entrance. Our other contact information will remain the same: Please send mail to P.O. Box 170 Unity, ME 04988; call us at 207-568-6030; email us at: [email protected].
  • FarmingForME campaign supports and raises awareness about farm jobs available across the state. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), in collaboration with others including the Maine Department of Labor, recently launched this publicity campaign to assist the Maine farming community, which has perennially faced labor needs that now have been exacerbated by COVID-19. By connecting employers with potential employees through existing job platforms, the aim is to help get farm job openings filled while educating Mainers generally about opportunities in agriculture. The campaign promotes the use of both the Maine Joblink platform and the DACF's Farm Labor Link Network. In addition to email and social media marketing, they have made several recruiting graphics available to help spread the word.
  • Free cloth face masks are available to farms. The masks are made available by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) in partnership with the Maine Department of Corrections. If your farm needs reusable cloth face masks, submit a request; they are currently working on distribution logistics but have several thousand made and more being made. Limit two per person. Send or request a form via [email protected] at Maine DACF.
  • Small Bites. Two new posts are now available: "Navigating Disaster" and "Reconnecting." These short, informational articles offer practical ideas about stress reduction, improved communication and family well-being written by coaches from UMaine Cooperative Extension's farm coaching team. Farm coaches are available at no cost to work remotely with farmers and farm families.

 

Financial Assistance

 

  • MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) is waiving late fees for certification renewal through June 15. Farmers and processors who have March and April renewal due dates and have not yet filed their updates for certification renewal in 2020 can do so now through June 15 without paying the associated late fees, as MCS is not imposing those fees in a gesture of support and forgiveness during these difficult times. A reminder that if you cannot pay the entirety of your fees with the update renewal, please contact the MCS office or your certification specialist to work out a payment plan. Please don't delay getting your update to MCS.

 

Get on the Map!

 

 

Upcoming Webinars

 

  • Online Sales for Farms: Lessons Learned So Far webinar. Tuesday, June 16, 7 p.m. Join us for a webinar focusing on several farms' and tech service providers' experiences with online sales for various farm products in response to COVID-19. Presentations will be case studies on building an ecommerce website from scratch for a mixed vegetable farm, getting ecommerce integrated into an existing website for seedlings, developing an online site for a PYO operation and integrating online sales data into QuickBooks. Presenters include Polly Shyka of Villageside Farm, Drew Lessard of DevelopersHelping Producers, Jeremy Bloom of Internet Farmer and Jed Beach of FarmSmart. Hosted by MOFGA. Register here. Free of charge.
  • FSA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) educational webinars for producers. Learn more about this federal funding program, now open through August 28, through these FSA-hosted presentations, many on crop-specific topics. Upcoming webinars include "Non-Specialty Crop and Livestock Producers" on June 16 and "FSA Programs in the Time of Coronavirus" on June 18. Past recorded webinars (including "Specialty Crops" and "Dairy") are available here as well.

 

Surveys

 

  • Cover Crop Use by UMaine Cooperative Extension. Researchers are asking all growers who have tried or are successfully incorporating cover crops into their field management systems to participate in this new survey. They are looking at what resources are needed to support Maine farmers in cover crop planning and management. This survey should only take about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The responses will inform an upcoming cover crop research proposal.
  • CFAP feedback survey by the National Organic Coalition (NOC). The NOC is seeking feedback from organic farmers about the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) direct payment plan for farmers, to better understand how to advocate for meaningful support for organic farmers. This short survey is for both farmers who have applied as well as for those who have thought about applying.

 

Good News Department

 

  • Farm to Pantry Program Aims to Help Maine Farmers and Feed the Hungry article/news report by NewsCenter Maine. Through a new funding initiative, the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program will buy $40,000 worth of organic produce and protein directly from five Maine farms in the greater Brunswick area. Historically these farms (all MOFGA-certified organic) have donated farm products to the MCHPP; this summer the farmers will be paid for their products, thanks to the efforts of community-minded businesses, schools and organizations that helped put together this "Farm to Pantry" food support program. Report by Hannah Yechivi.

 

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