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Farmer Programs Newsletter for August 7, 2020

Hi folks, here is MOFGA's Farmer Programs newsletter (now monthly) for August 7, 2020. Back issues are archived on the MOFGA website here. 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 regularlynewest updates are highlighted in yellow. Resources that may be of particular interest to farmworkers are highlighted in green.

 

Resources

 

  • Update your farm's listing on the new DACF Real Maine website. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has launched their new site and marketing campaign (Real Maine, to replace the Get Real, Get Maine campaign) to help consumers find Maine agricultural products and events, and promote Maine agriculture. There is an extensive advertising campaign going on this summer and fall to promote the brand to the public, raise awareness of Maine agricultural products, and to attract traffic to the new website. Check it out!

  • In late July, the Department of Labor announced additional guidance to provide information to employers and workers about how the requirements and protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) impact the workplace as America continues to reopen from the coronavirus. The new guidance provides plain-language questions and answers addressing critical issues under all three laws. Please click on the hyperlinks above to view the new guidance. If you have any questions regarding this new guidance, please call the DOL at 1-866-487-9243.>/p?

  • Northeast BIPOC Farmer Relief Fund. This new emergency program is now accepting applications for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) folks living in the Northeast who work in agriculture and have been economically impacted by the COVID crisis. Funded by Farm Aid, this fund will provide $500 relief payments. The program is open for applications until August 10. Contact Tracy Lerman from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group at [email protected] if you have questions.

  • Small Bites. Two new posts are available: "Methods of Communication – Parts 1 and 2" – authored by Coaches Polly Shyka and Abby Sadauckas. 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.

 

Get on the Map!

 

 

Recorded Webinars

 

  • Online Sales for Farms – Lessons Learned So Far recorded webinar now available. MOFGA hosted this webinar on June 16, 2020, which focuses on several farms' and tech service providers' experiences with online sales for various farm products in response to COVID-19. The case studies presented are: 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.

 

Opportunities for Farmer Input

 

  • Listening Session for USDA improvements to crop insurance options. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 12 pm. As part of the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress required USDA RMA to solicit feedback about improved crop insurance coverage options for farmers and ranchers selling through local food markets. This includes discussing how existing crop insurance programs can be improved, as well as exploring the possibility of a new crop insurance program. They are soliciting feedback, as well as inviting farmers to join the virtual session on September 1.  For more info, contact Andre Williamson at [email protected].

  • Comment Period now open for NOP's proposed Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule. The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposes amending the USDA organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. The proposed amendments are intended to protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations. Public review and comment is encouraged, from now until October 5, 2020.

 

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