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Action Alert: Make Sure Your Farm Counts!

 

Why is the Census important to Farmers?

Currently, the census is the only complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It includes even the smallest plots of land – rural or urban – growing fruits, vegetables, or raising food animals, if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. The information produced by the Census of Agriculture guides Congress, agribusiness, policymakers, researchers, local governments and many others on the creation and funding of agricultural programs and services – decisions that can directly impact your local operations and the future of the agriculture industry for years to come.

How can Farmers sign up to be counted?

Please note that new farmers or existing farmers who have not participated in a prior Census of Agriculture still have time to sign up to be counted through the end of June at https://www.agcounts.usda.gov/cgi-bin/counts/.  

The survey takes less than a minute – and will ensure that you receive a Census form (that you can fill out in paper form or online.)  If a farmer/rancher is not on our list frame by June 30th, the producer will not have an opportunity to participate in the 2017 Census of Agriculture. 

For more information about the census, please visit www.agcensus.usda.gov, follow NASS on Twitter @usda_nass, or call (800) 727-9540

Deadline for New Applications Fast Approaching – June 30th

Thinking of becoming MOFGA Certified Organic in 2017? The deadline for new crop applicants is June 30th. Use the links below to learn the steps involved and to download the necessary forms. If you have questions, please contact the MCS office: (207) 568-6030 or email: certification@mofga.org.  All applications must be postmarked by 6/30/2017.

Steps to Becoming Certified Organic

Certification Application Forms

The Organic Sprout – Spring 2017

MCS_Organic Sprout_Spring2017_FInal

The spring Organic Sprout is here! Certified producers will receive a copy in the mail, but you can read it online right now.

MCS Staff Announcement

Katy Green has joined MCS as a full time staff inspector and materials reviewer, and is replacing our outgoing staff inspector, Jake Galle. Katy has worked for MOFGA since 2008, primarily helping farmers and processors transition to organic production.  This work has allowed Katy to travel all over the state offering assistance, guidance, and answering questions about complying with the organic standards.  She is excited that her work with MCS will still have her traveling all over the state and that she’ll be able to apply the knowledge learned from working with clients transitioning to organic production to her new role working with the certification program.  Katy can be reached at her same email address: kgreen@mofga.org.

 

2017 Application Forms Are Ready!

2017  application forms for organic certification for all scopes are live and available for download under the Certification Application Forms drop-down menu above. Please make note of the deadlines for each scope; you can find them here. Producers renewing their certification can also find forms they may need in the same menu. If you have any questions please contact us at the MCS office.

The Organic Sprout – Fall Edition

mcs_organic-sprout_fall2016_online

The Sprout is out and full of noteworthy content and relevant issues including MCS reaching its milestone of certifying over 500 producers in 2016. Certified producers will receive a copy in the mail, but you can read it online here right now.

MOFGA Certifies More than 500 Organic Producers

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is excited to announce that as of August 2016, Maine has more than 500 certified organic farms and processors, according to MOFGA Certification Services LLC (MCS). About 464 farms (some of which are involved in processing as well) and 46 processors are certified by MOFGA Certification Services.

This milestone means that almost 6 percent of Maine’s 8,200 farm operations are certified organic — one of the largest percentages in the country, based on the most recent data available (from the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture and the 2014 USDA Census of Organic Farms). Nationwide the figure is about 0.6 percent.

MOFGA was one of the first organic certifiers in the country, beginning in 1972 with Ken and Roberta Horn, who farmed the 140-acre Ken-Ro Farm in Plymouth. The organization certified 26 additional farms as organic that year — all by following Rodale Organic Garden certification guidelines. For many years MOFGA staff members Eric Sideman (organic crop specialist) and Diane Schivera (organic livestock specialist) along with a MOFGA certification committee had primary responsibility for certification and followed state law regarding standards.

In 2002, when federal standards took effect, MOFGA hired Mary Yurlina to develop and oversee MCS, to meet United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program regulations. The MCS program now has a staff of eight, is co-directed by Kate Newkirk and Jaco Schravesande-Gardei, and has a volunteer management committee.

In addition MOFGA was the first organization in the country to provide technical assistance specific to organic farming and gardening. The agricultural services staff provides farming, gardening and marketing assistance to growers in Maine and beyond. Katy Green, MOFGA’s organic transitions coordinator, helps guide farmers and processors who are interested in becoming organic.

Certified organic farms must follow federal rules regarding building soil health and promoting biological diversity. They use cultural practices such as cover cropping and crop rotation, and mechanical practices such as insect-excluding row covers, as primary means of maintaining plant and soil health. Pesticides (most coming from natural materials) are allowed only as a last resort, and most pesticides approved for organic production are of low toxicity and break down quickly. Livestock on organic farms must have access to the outdoors and may not be treated with antibiotics or with added growth hormones. Certified organic processors can use only organic products or must have strict separation of organic products from non-certified products.

Certified organic farms and processors are inspected annually by a third party, with MCS used most often in Maine. By law, MCS also regularly conducts random tests of certified operations for pesticide residues.

Consumers can find an interactive list of MOFGA-certified organic farms and products at http://www.mofgacertification.org. Products include vegetables, fruits, maple syrup, dairy, meat, herbs, cut flowers, Christmas trees, hay, grains, processed products – even mushrooms and seaweed. MOFGA and MCS also put out a free annual publication called Organic Maine!, a directory of MOFGA-certified organic farms, foods and products, in printed magazine format and as a PDF available at http://www.mofgacertification.org.

 

Data sources

USDA’s 2015 State Agriculture Overview https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=MAINE

USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture, State Summary Highlights

https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Full_Report/Volume_1,_Chapter_2_US_State_Level/st99_2_001_001.pdf

Organic Sales as Percent of Market Value of All Agricultural Products Sold – Certified Organic Farms: 2014

https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/Organics/organics_1_028_028.pdf

 

The Organic Sprout is Back – Spring 2016 Issue

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After a 3 year hiatus, The Organic Sprout, MOFGA’s Newsletter for Organic Producers, is back with the Spring 2016 issue. If you haven’t yet received your copy in the mail, you can read and download the PDF here.

 

2016 Organic Maine! Hot off the press!

To get copies for your store, farm stand, local library, etc, call MOFGA at 568-4142.  You can download a PDF of the directory here.

 

Application forms for 2016 – Deadline is June 30th!

Find the forms you need to apply for certification in 2016 by using the drop down menus at the top of this webpage. If you would like to be contacted directly and be on our emailing list, please follow this link.

Have technical questions about organic management techniques, creating an organic system plan or accessing organic markets?   The Ag Services team at MOFGA may be able to help.  Check them out HERE.