Grower Meetings – Just Two Left!
Aroostook County Grower Meeting Southern Aroostook Agriculture Museum, Littleton
Thursday, February 27, 2014 – 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Washington County Grower Meeting Cobscook Community Learning Center, Trescott Thursday, March 13, 2014 – 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Free! To register, follow this link: www.formstack.com/forms/MOFGA-rsvp__copy
Each grower’s meeting will contain presentations on:
Managing Soil Health
Organic farmers are much more than crop managers. They are stewards of a myriad of microorganisms in the soil. Managing these microscopic species of bacteria, fungi and others builds soil. Eric will discuss the importance of organic matter in feeding these critters and building better soil.
Parasites We will discuss lice, mites, and other external parasites that plague your livestock as well as the latest organic management techniques used to control them.
Farm Food Safety Updates Designing the Packing Shed and Writing a Recall Plan. Are your packing areas designed to minimize contamination from entering the food stream? Does your farm have a recall plan for food that may be implicated in a food bourne illness? Resources and tips on packing area design and writing your farm recall plan.
Organic Certification: News, Feedback, Q&A, New Applicant Assistance MOFGA Certifications Services will present a brief update about National Organic Program changes that impact certified producers. We’ll also have updates about what our program is doing in 2014 and answer your questions about staying or getting certified. Those thinking about certification are encouraged to attend; application materials and assistance with the forms will be available.
A facilitated hour of discussions and questions will follow the presentations.
What motivates you to purchase organic foods? Why is MOFGA-certified organic important? How can we better promote the MOFGA organic label? You can help us by taking our survey. It’s just 10 questions with lots of opportunity to add comments. Thank you and have a great 2014!
CLICK HERE FOR SURVEY
Looking for USDA programs and services that support the growing organic sector? USDA has created a centralized web resource center containing all their programs, services, and data.
The new site gives access to:
- Conservation programs, flexible microloans, and other financial resources for farmers and ranchers.
- Organic price reports, cost/revenue comparisons, and other economic and market data.
- Improved crop and livestock insurance and other programs tailored to the organic sector.
- Production and conservation assistance and research on organic agriculture.
- Benefits of organic certification and how to get certified.
- USDA staff at your local field offices and much more
USDA is committed to helping organic agriculture grow and thrive by removing obstacles for organic farmers and businesses.
MOFGA wants to focus on ways to boost the impact of MOFGA-certified organic for both farmers and consumers. We want more producers to seek certification through MOFGA and the best way to do that is to strengthen the MOFGA-certified organic logo in the marketplace. Our logo needs to be the label that everyone recognizes and seeks out when buying food and farm products. By redesigning our certification logo we hope to improve overall marketing of the MOFGA-certified organic brand. Toward that end, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been published, and we encourage our producers to share it far and wide. The deadline for proposals is Monday, 30 December 2013.
Access the full RFP here.
The Organic Sprout Late Summer edition is published! This issue focuses on livestock and is filled with great content including articles on parasite control, sprouted grain systems, organic kelp and our growing number of MOFGA certified producers. You can read it here.
We want more people to choose MOFGA Certified Organic when they shop. Last year, MOFGA hired the marketing firm The Soap Group from Portland, who provided MOFGA with strategies to boost the impact of our MOFGA certified organic label in the market place. One of the recommendations was a redesign of the MOFGA Certified Logo. While we want people to associate the certified organic logo with the organization MOFGA, The Soap Group asserted that the logos are too similar and the organization’s logo can be mistaken for the certification mark. We will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP) aimed at graphic designers later this summer. Stay tuned for more information.
THE COMMENT PERIOD HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 13 November
In January, the Food and Drug Administration released its proposed rules for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act passed by Congress in 2011. As the proposed rule is currently written, it will have broad reaching effect on farmers marketing fruits and vegetables in a raw state. While food contamination can come from a variety of sources, including biological, physical and chemical, the FDA chose only to write rules to control possible contamination from biological sources alone. Potential routes of food born illness covered under the rule include agricultural water sources, biological soil amendments of animal origin, worker health and hygiene, equipment, tools, and buildings, as well as domestic and wild animals.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), of which MOFGA is a member, has been engaged in the FSMA process with four guiding principles in mind:
>Everyone has a role in ensuring a safe food supply.
>Regulators should focus on the highest risk.
>Regulations should be science-based when possible.
>One size does not fit all: Regulations must be scale-appropriate to be effective; a one-size-fits-all approach will put small farms and processors out of business and undermine other public health goals, such as increased production, availability, and access to healthy foods.
To learn more about the proposed rule and for talking points see: http://www.mofga.org/Programs/PublicPolicyInitiatives/SafetyRule/tabid/2650/Default.aspx
This is the 75% (capped at $750) annual cost share of certification fees that the State of Maine disperses. The change to the program this year is that there is no federal funding to support the cost share program for processor/handlers this year. We are hopeful that it will be re-instituted in the new Farm Bill. MOFGA is working with like minded organizations on this. THERE WILL BE A COST SHARE FOR GROWERS (FARMERS) IN 2013. And like last year, we intend to submit a request for rebate checks early (June) as well as at the end of the federal fiscal year (end of September). To be eligible for an early June cost-share check, you must have submitted your 2013 update and have completed payment on your 2013 fees.
On-line Update for Crop Producers
It’s ready! You can submit your annual farm plan changes and 2013 plan using the Internet. Crop producers have received emails with information about how to participate. Contact Kate Newkirk (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info if you need it.
To describe the relevant organic requirements, provide best practices, and further explain the certification process, ATTRA has partnered with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to provide the following detailed guides, which provide helpful information for both beginning farmers and current organic operations looking to adopt new management approaches. (Click on each title to download):
This publication provides an overview of USDA organic certification and provides some additional resources for prospective organic farms and businesses.
New farmers, and farmers experienced in conventional agriculture, often find that obtaining organic certification for their crops is quite challenging. This guide is intended to help lead farmers through the organic certification process. Chapters 1 through 4 explain the National Organic Program (NOP) and describe the process of organic certification. Later chapters explain specific USDA organic regulations that apply to planting, soil fertility, pest management, and other farm practices. In addition to interpreting the regulations, this guide explains the practices and materials that are allowed for organic production.
This guide is an overview of the process of becoming certified organic. It is designed to explain the USDA organic regulations as they apply to livestock producers. If you are also producing crops, you will need the “Guide for Organic Producers” to understand the regulations pertaining to the land and to crop production. In addition to explaining the regulations, both guides give examples of the practices that are allowed for organic production.
This publication serves as a guide for farmers who wish to add value to their organic crops through processing. It explains the USDA organic regulations that are relevant to farmers who wish to process their organic crops and label or sell the product as organic.
The winter Sprout is published and on it’s way to our certified growers. It’s filled with great content including articles on mass balance, enterprise budgeting, financing farm projects, details about MCS’s 2012 USDA audit, and much more. You can read it now right here.