Tag Archives: Future for Farming

Maine Farmland Trust Awards Blue Hill Peninsula Grants

MFT recently awarded 22 Blue Hill Peninsula Community Food Grants, totaling more than $55,000. The average grant received was just over $2,500. Grants were awarded to projects or programs intended to increase food sustainability and improve the health and well-being of Blue Hill Peninsula residents. MFT recognized programs that create a more just and sustainable local food system through production and education within both the immediate and surrounding communities.

Tree of Life food pantry was one of this year’s grantees. Betsy Bott, a volunteer at the pantry, explains, “The Community Food Grant and Good Shepherd’s Mainers Feeding Mainers have made it possible for us to put the best our local farms have to offer onto the plates of our community’s food insecure. Due to this support, the Tree of Life has returned 8-10 thousand dollars a year back to local farmers. It’s a win-win, as cliché as that is. That’s what’s so great about these grants. They get really good food to our neighbors, and give farmers a payment.” Healthy Peninsula’s Healthy Eating Initiative received one of the other grants.

Awards were also given to individuals and businesses. “Receiving this grant is enabling us to accelerate the growth of our home garden through the purchase of essential tools, cold frames, and a small greenhouse. As a family of five that wants to eat organic, non-gmo, local food our grocery bill is very high – so being able to grow more of our own food is a high priority for us. Working with our children cultivating the land and showing them how to provide for themselves is one of the most important lessons that we can teach.” says Alycia Brown, of the Blue Hill home garden project.

Other projects awarded grants involved purchasing produce from local farmers to share with food insecure neighbors, construction of farm stands, purchasing farm equipment (as well as home garden tools and improvements), and summer camp garden programs for kids. MFT would like to congratulate everyone who was awarded a grant and thank everyone who applied.

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Four farm businesses receive $50K grants from MFT to scale-up to new markets

Kathi Langelier of Herbal Revolution (left) and Kelsey Herrington of Two Farmers Farm (right, photo by Greta Rybus)

MFT has awarded grants to four farms of approximately $50,000 to implement changes in order to scale up their businesses. The farms participated in the 201 track of MFT’s Farming for Wholesale program and spent two years working with business advisors to research and define business plans focused on scaling up for wholesale markets. These implementation grants are competitive and applications undergo an extensive review process by a committee comprised of MFT staff and industry consultants.

The 2018 crop of grantees, all of who received around $50,000, include Tide Mill Creamery in Edmunds, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Herbal Revolution in Union, and Broadturn Farm in Scarborough. The farms will use the grant funds to scale-up infrastructure, equipment, and expand marketing efforts.

Rachel Bell and Nate Horton of Tide Mill Creamery constructed new housing for their herd and made improvements to their pastures, and installed a 100-gallon vat pasteurizer, which will allow them to sell cheese across state lines. Kelsey Herrington and Dominic Pascarelli, of Two Farmers Farm, will implement a new business plan to sell more vegetables in mainstream markets while maintaining a high level of product quality, and quality of life. Kathi Langelier, of Herbal Revolution, created a plan that scales production to meet national demand for her herbal line. She will also invest in the business’ brand, and create new jobs in farm operations, sales, marketing, and production management. Farmers John Bliss and Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm are using the funds to cultivate their brand and marketing to create new opportunities within the floral industry. This includes infrastructure that will help them pave the way for the burgeoning local flower market.

This is the second year MFT has offered implementation grants for farms that completed the 201 Farming For Wholesale program. “Access to financing to implement new changes and ideas continues to be a challenge,” said Alex Fouliard, Farming for Wholesale program manager. “MFT is pleased to be able to fill that need and keep momentum moving forward for these farms.”

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms: farm tour & policy update

Tour Stonyvale Farm  with farmer Bob Fogler and Ellen Mallory of UMaine Cooperative Extension to learn how farmers are building healthy soils that benefit both the climate and farm profitability.

Hear from MFT & Maine Conservation Voters about policy initiatives that can foster healthy soils practices on farms, and how you can help shape policies that are good for farms and good for the environment.

Free & Open to All. Dress for a farm tour (sensible footwear, layers).

 

Please RSVP to ellen@mainefarmlandtrust.org by May 9.

House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill is a Mixed Bag for Maine Farmers

On Thursday, April 12th, the House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) introduced his draft of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2). On Wednesday, April 18th, the Committee voted the bill out of Committee on a strictly party-line vote (26-20). The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill in May. This bill is very much a mixed bag for farmers in Maine. Although it contains some important provisions for farmland conservation, beginning farmers, food access, and organic research, it either eliminates mandatory funding, does not increase funding, or makes problematic administrative changes to many programs that are vital to Maine farmers.

 

Funding for Farmland Conservation

Good:

  • Restores $500 million in mandatory funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which provides funding for easements on agricultural land.
  • Makes some administrative changes to ACEP that will make the program easier to use for farmers and conservation organizations.
  • Increases baseline funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which provides funding for conservation activities through public-private partnerships.

Problematic:

  • Cuts funding for working lands conservation programs by nearly $5 billion over 10 years.
  • Eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which provides farmers with comprehensive support to address natural resources concerns on their property while keeping their land in production. Replaces CSP with Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) stewardship contracts that do not have the core features of CSP and will not have an equal amount of funding.
  • Allows 100% forested land to be eligible for ACEP, diluting the funding available for easements on working farms.

 

Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers

Good:

  • Reauthorizes and continues existing mandatory funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides competitively awarded grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers.
  • Expands the focus of BFRDP to include food safety training, land access, and succession planning.
  • Includes a new Farmland Tenure, Transition, and Entry Data Initiative to collect important data on farmland ownership, tenure, transition, barriers to entry, profitability and viability of beginning farmers in order to improve policymaking and analysis.
  • Reauthorizes and maintains level funding for the Transition Incentives Program (CRP-TIP) to help facilitate the transition of farmland coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to the next generation of farmers. But it does not make needed administrative changes to improve the effectiveness of the program.

Problematic:

  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteed operating loan limits are increased without increasing overall program funding, thereby decreasing the opportunity for small-scale and beginning farmers to access loans.
  • No increases to FSA direct farm ownership loan limits.

 

Local and Regional Food Systems and Rural Development

Good:

  • Increases mandatory funding to $275 million over 5 years for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program (FINI), which provides competitive grants to projects that help low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through incentives.

Problematic:

  • Provides no mandatory funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP), which is a competitive grant program to help farmers and processors comply with new food safety requirements.
  • Provides no mandatory funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), which is a competitive grant program that funds direct-to-consumer marketing strategies as well as local and regional food business enterprises.
  • Provides no mandatory funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG), which provides competitively awarded grants to producers to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses.
  • Eliminates the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), which helps small and mid-sized organic farm businesses afford annual certification costs.

 

Research

Good:

  • Provides a $10 million increase in mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research & Extension Initiative (OREI), which supports research projects that address the most critical challenges that organic farmers face.

Problematic:

  • Reauthorizes the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE), which provides funding for farmer-driven research, but provides no increases in funding.
  • Reauthorizes the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which provides competitive grants to researchers to solve pressing challenges facing farmers and society, but provides no increases in funding.
  • Reauthorizes the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which provides competitive grants for regional and multi-state projects that conduct research related to specialty crops, but provides no increases in funding.

 

Although there are many aspects of this bill that need to be improved for the benefit of Maine farmers, the vote by the House Agriculture Committee is just the first step. The full House of Representatives is supposed to vote on the bill in May. We urge you to contact your representative, either Congresswoman Chellie Pingree or Congressman Bruce Poliquin, to make your voice heard about this bill.

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

Maine FarmLink Mixer and Potluck

York County Land Owners (YCFN) and Seekers Unite!

FarmLink Mixer and Potluck, co-sponsored by YCFN and MFT

When: April 11, 2018 • 5:30 pm, potluck dinner; 6:30 pm, meeting

Where: Extension office building, 21 Bradeen St., Nasson Heritage Room, Springvale, ME 04083

Cost: Free, potluck items welcomed; beverages provided.

MFT staff will explain the FarmLink program and related programs for sellers and buyers of Maine farmland. Questions encouraged! Discuss & socialize with FarmLink staff and each other at this Spring event.

For more information on the event or the FarmLink program, contact Sue Lanpher at Maine FarmLink, info@mainefarmlink.org, or 207-338-6575.

In case of inclement weather, check cancellations at News Center Maine (WCSH6).

Questions? Contact: Frank Wertheim (frank.wertheim@maine.edu) or Becky Gowdy (rebecca.gowdy@maine.edu) at UMaine Extension, 207-324-2814.

Garlic Planting

Government Spending Package Contains Important Funding for Maine Farms

On March 23, 2018, the President signed a government spending package (the “omnibus appropriations bill”) to fund federal programs through September 30, 2018. The bill divides up the $2 billion in increased agricultural funding that was obtained through the budget deal reached by Congress in February. This increased funding provides much-needed investment in rural infrastructure, farm conservation, sustainable agriculture research, rural business development, outreach and technical assistance, food safety training, and farm credit programs. Specifically, the omnibus appropriations bill provides the following for agriculture and rural development programs:

 

 

Because the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations process was so late, the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in both the House and the Senate are currently receiving appropriations requests for their Fiscal Year 2019 bills. In Maine, we are lucky to have representatives on both of those committees – Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Senator Susan Collins. Now is a great time to reach out to both of them and let them know the importance of having sufficient funding for the programs that are vital to Maine farms.

Let's grow a bright future for farming in Maine, together.

3rd Annual Farmland Access Conference

In the next decade, more than 400,000 acres of Maine farmland will transition in ownership. What will happen to that land? Farmers, landowners, and farm advocates are invited to the third annual Farmland Access Conference on December 4, 2017 at the Augusta Civic Center, Augusta ME co-hosted by Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good. The day-long conference will delve into some of the stickiest issues facing farming today. Workshops will tackle challenges of how to provide for a farm’s future when a farmer is ready to retire, and how next generation farmers can take on the stewardship of farmland in transition and shepherd the future of Maine’s food system.

Deadline to register is

Thursday, November 30. Cost of attendance is $15 per person and includes a lunch sourced from local farmers and producers.

Agenda

  • 8-8:30 Registration
  • 8:30-10 Welcome, Opening Plenary: Farmland in the Balance: At the Nexus of Access, Transfer, Viability, and Conservation
    • Chellie Pingree, US Congress
    • Walter Whitcomb, Maine Agriculture Commissioner
    • Amanda Beal, President, and CEO, Maine Farmland Trust
    • Jim Hafner, Executive Director, Land For Good

Farmland Access is a cross-cutting issue that requires multiples perspectives and approaches. Our panelists will share remarks from their own rich experiences and areas of expertise in farm access, transfer, viability, and conservation; and offer insights into what’s needed in these areas to continue making progress towards a robust and sustainable Maine food system. A facilitated discussion between the panelists and the audience will follow.  

  • 10-10:25  Break
  • 10:30-Noon  Breakout 1
  • Noon-12:45  Lunch  
  • 12:45-2  Breakout 2  
  • 2-2:25  Break
  • 2:30-3:30  Breakout 3

See the Breakout Session Descriptions here.

walk-in registration the day of the conference is welcome!

Questions?  Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact Erica Buswell: ebuswell@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Thank you to our sponsors!

Forgotten Farms at Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville

Join us at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville on Wednesday, May 24th at 7:15 pm for Forgotten Farms, a new film about the important role dairy farms play in New England’s farming landscape.

Dairy farmers remain the backbone of the region’s agriculture but fight for survival in an age of artisan cheese and kale. New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years; about 2,000 farms remain. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, Forgotten Farms reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers, who will be essential players in an expanded agricultural economy.

Amanda Beal of MFT, Dave Colson of MOFGA, along with the film makers and Maine dairy farmers, will discuss how the themes of the film are present in Maine’s dairy industry today and where we can go from here.

Presented by Maine Farmland Trust & MOFGA

$5 suggested donation.

Forgotten Farms at Johnson Hall, Gardiner

Join us at Johnson Hall, Gardiner on Tuesday, May 23rd at 6:30 pm for Forgotten Farms, a new film about the important role dairy farms play in New England’s farming landscape.

Dairy farmers remain the backbone of the region’s agriculture but fight for survival in an age of artisan cheese and kale. New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years; about 2,000 farms remain. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, FORGOTTEN FARMS reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers, who will be essential players in an expanded agricultural economy.

Amanda Beal of MFT, Dave Colson of MOFGA, along with the film makers and Maine dairy farmers, will discuss how the themes of the film are present in Maine’s dairy industry today and where we can go from here.

Presented by Maine Farmland Trust & MOFGA

$5. suggested donation.

Forgotten Farms at Space Gallery, Portland

Join us at Space Gallery, Portland on Monday, May 22nd at 7:00 pm, (doors at 6:30) for Forgotten Farms, a new film about the important role dairy farms play in New England’s farming landscape.

Dairy farmers remain the backbone of the region’s agriculture but fight for survival in an age of artisan cheese and kale. New England has lost over 10,000 dairy farms in the past 50 years; about 2,000 farms remain. Through conversations with farmers and policy experts, FORGOTTEN FARMS reconsiders the role of these vital but forgotten farmers, who will be essential players in an expanded agricultural economy.

Amanda Beal of MFT, Dave Colson of MOFGA, along with the film makers and Maine dairy farmers, will discuss how the themes of the film are present in Maine’s dairy industry today and where we can go from here.

$5. suggested donation.

Presented by Maine Farmland Trust, MOFGA, and the Portland Food Co-op.