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Farmer Programs Newsletter for May 18, 2020

This is the Farmer Programs Newsletter for May 18, 2020, sent weekly (for now) with updates, links and info relevant to MOFGA organic farms – so give it at least a quick look! We try not to repeat too much from week to week, as back issues are archived and readily available 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 several times daily – newest updates are highlighted in bold type.




  • The On-Ramp to Online Sales updated Farmer Resource bulletin. Produced by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), this is a new, comprehensive compilation of resources for farmers to use in planning and implementing online sales and ecommerce solutions to marketing during COVID-19.  It includes a list of agricultural technical advisors, what you need to get ready to get online, what to consider when choosing an online sales platform, info on digital marketing, and links to webinars and other useful resources.
  • Second COVID-19 Maine Farmer Survey Data Analysis. Results from the recently completed (second) survey of Maine farmers, a collaboration between MOFGA, Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and Univ. of Maine Cooperative Extension, help farmers and ag service providers understand and track some trends within our farming community (such as market changes and farm resiliency), and it may provide solidarity and inspiration in this difficult time.
  • 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.
  • PPE and Other Farm Supplies for COVID-19 spreadsheet, curated by Nicolas Lindholm of MOFGA, regularly updates sources for important items including hand sanitizer, nitrile gloves, face masks, hand washing station supplies, and, recently added, thermal scan thermometers.
  • Small Bites. 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. The second Small Bites is titled "I Statements."


Financial Support


  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new USDA program will soon be opened to provide funds to farmers directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Check this website for information, a recording of the introductory webinar from 5/14/20, info on how to prepare and how to apply once signup begins.
  • Early PPP Self-Employed Applicants can now revise their applications. Mark LaDuc from Senator Susan Collins' office announced at the Friday Maine Farm Zoom session (hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension) that new guidance allows seasonal employers who received their PPP loans before the guidance issued in late April to revise their applications to seek more funding now. Note: These revisions must be made before the borrower's bank files its Form 1502 with the SBA, so borrowers should act quickly to revise their applications if they wish to do so. (Contact your local SBA office or the lender with whom you applied.)
  • Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) grant programs are now open for pre-proposals, with one specifically for ag service providers cooperating with farmers: Research & Education Grants. If you have an idea for a research and/or educational project, look into this grant program and reach out to an ag service provider if you think it could be a good fit. The deadline for 2021 Research and Education grant pre-proposals is Thursday, July 23, 2020. Invited full proposals will be due on October 20, 2020.
  • MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) is waiving late fees for certification renewal through the end of May. 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 the end of May without paying the associated late fees, as, in a gesture of support and forgiveness during these difficult times, MCS is not imposing those fees. Remember: If you cannot pay your entire fees with the update renewal, please contact the MCS office or your specialist to work out a payment plan. Please don't delay getting your update to MCS!


Get on the Map!



Upcoming Webinars


  • Stress, Resilience, and Resources: Responding to the Impacts of COVID-19 on Farms webinar. Wednesday, May 20, 1 p.m. Discussion and information about stress, building resilience, and available resources to meet farmers' needs during this ever-changing time. Led by Leslie Forstadt, Ph.D., Extension professor, and hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
  • USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Funding webinar. May 19, 1:30 p.m.  Learn about a USDA grant fund for innovative products, technology or services that can include topics such as small and mid-sized farms, forestry and aquaculture. Workshop and presentations led by a USDA SBIR program manager and a Maine Technology Institute (MTI) staff member. Hosted by MTI. Free of charge.
  • Weekly Zoom meetings for farmers hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, every Friday, 10 a.m. Farmers and others share what is happening on their farms, 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.


Good News Department


  • Farms Disrupted by Coronoavirus Receive Grants from MOFGA, Maine Farmland Trust. Article in Morning Sentinel, May 11. MOFGA and MFT announced that 76 farmers received funds through this joint collaborative emergency program, with a total of $141,100 being distributed directly to the farms to help cover costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic. MOFGA's executive director, Sarah Alexander, is quoted, as is Hanne Tierney from Cornerstone Farm. Written by Molly Shelly.
  • A Common Ground Fair Like Never Before. Article in Village Soup, May 12. The largest organic fair in the country is not "canceled" but will be a virtual experience this year. It's important that we say this clearly. Quoting Sarah Alexander: "We're excited to create a one-of-a-kind event that could draw an audience from all over the world." Written by Fran Gonzalez.
  • Mentors Helping Maine Small Businesses Pivot to Survive. This article in the Portland Press Herald (May 11) features work by Coastal Enterprises Inc. to support small businesses, including the grant funding it provided to cover the principal and interest payments for May, June and July for farms with active CEI loans. It includes an interview with Ben Whalen of Bumbleroot Farm. Written by Glenn Jordan.


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