5 April 2014

Got Hayfields?  Attend a hay making workshop with Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Cooperative Extension.  Many options statewide.  REGISTER

Have pigs?  Buying pigs?  Be knowledgable about recent porcine virus outbreaks.  READ

Interested in holistic healthcare for livestock?  Attend a workshop with PASA’s Susan Beal DMV, at MOFGA, on 12 April.  REGISTER

Want to learn how to slaughter your own broilers?  Attend MOFGA’s popular chicken processing workshop led by Diane Schivera on 10 July.  REGISTER

Reminder!  Now is the time of year that organic farm plan renewals are due if you are a MOFGA certified organic farm.  Check your paperwork for your deadline.  Direct questions to your certification specialist (Jaco, Katie, or Joan).

 

Late winter news and reminders

The Washington County Growers Meeting Scheduled for this Thursday 13 March 14 in Trescott has been cancelled due to the coming winter storm.

Notice to all MOFGA certified farms:  Farm certification updates are due soon.  Check your update letters from your certification specialists.  Due dates are either 17 March or 21 April.  Please contact your specialist (Katie, Jaco, Joan or Kate) if you have questions.

MOFGA’s Spring Growth Conference is Saturday 22 March 14 at our Common Ground Education Center in Unity.  This year’s topic is WEED CONTROL, a big challenge for many organic crop producers.  Click here for more details.

 

Take Our Survey

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

One-Stop Shop for Organics

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.

 

New Design Sought for MOFGA-Certified Organic Logo

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

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.

Marketing MOFGA Certified Organic

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.

FDA’s Proposed New Food Safety Rule

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

Federal Cost Share Program 2013

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 (knewkirk@mofga.org) for more info if you need it.

 

 

New Guides for Organic Operations

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):

Organic certification

This publication provides an overview of USDA organic certification and provides some additional resources for prospective organic farms and businesses.

Guide for Organic Crop Producers

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.

Guide for Organic Livestock Producers

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.

Guide for Organic Processors

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.