The Organic Sprout, MOFGA’s newsletter for organic producers, is a joint publication of MOFGA Certification Services and MOFGA’s Agricultural Services. It is produced and mailed several times a year and also available for reading here.
Not to be confused with the annual inspection… You’ll get one of those automatically!
MOFGA is the first organization in the country to provide technical assistance specific to organic farming and gardening. Our Agricultural Services staff provides farming, gardening and marketing assistance to growers in Maine and beyond. We assist seasoned organic growers, help new organic farmers get started and educate conventional farmers concerning the benefits of organic methods. Whether you’re growing acres of vegetables, producing organic milk or planting your first garden, we are here to help you succeed!
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THE COMMENT PERIOD HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 16 SEPTEMBER
Link to FDA website
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 how to comment, see http://sustainableagriculture.net/fsma/speak-out-today/
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 (email@example.com) 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.
Free Webinar Series for Direct Marketing Farmers
The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute have partnered with USDA Northeast SARE to present “Marketing for Profits: Tools for Success”, a series of webinars on marketing. These webinars have been designed with the assistance of regional and national marketing experts to provide critical marketing insights for farmers and farm markets throughout the northeast. The webinars are free, approximately an hour and a half long, and easy to access with a basic internet connection. Interested participants are encouraged to register online TODAY for the webinars they think they will attend. Each webinar will be repeated twice to maximize opportunity to participate, and are FREE. For more information, detailed descriptions of the sessions or a full 3-year curriculum, please contact Diane Eggert or David Grusenmeyer.