The best part of being the President of New England Farmers Union is getting to know our members.
At our December convention in Portland, I had the pleasure of meeting two young farmers from Maine, Mary Castonaguay of Castonguay Ayrshires, LLC, in Livermore and Allison Bates of Springside Farms in New Vineyard. Both sell milk to the Organic Valley farmer co-operative. With a newly elected Rep. Bruce Poliquin replacing Rep. Mike Michaud in Maine’s 2nd district, it was important to visit with him and his staff and claim our seat at the table.
I knew within minutes of talking with those two dynamic young women that we needed to get them down to Washington, D.C., and visit with Mr. Poliquin. Mary and Allie graciously agreed to my request, and with farmer leader grant support from Farm Aid, we flew them down to Washington, D.C. They both saw the value New England Farmers Union brings to its farmer members.
Mary reflected, “When you are home, you get focused on the day to day things of running the farm and you can lose sight of the fact that the people in Washington are making changes to laws that can affect you.” Mary said that the visit was useful because Rep. Poliquin will now seek guidance from Farmers Union when he has a question about agriculture policy.
“I have learned how instrumental NEFU is in helping shape agricultural policy,” she continued. “Farmers Union is a great advocate for New England agriculture. I really appreciate how it represents all sizes of farms and all production types. In the dairy industry, I have seen how some organizations (who are supposed to represent everyone) tend to cater to larger conventional farms. I like how NEFU is willing to listen to all sides and give everyone a chance to present ideas.”
Allie echoed Mary’s thoughts: “I believe that Farmers Union is an important tool that all farmers should have in their ‘toolbox,’” she said.
Thanks, Mary and Allie, for your leadership and for helping New England Farmers Union build strong relationships with policy makers as we continue the farm bill appropriation process.
back to top
The education foundation of the New England Farmers Union is offering a $500 scholarship to a student who will study agriculture at a 2-year or 4-year accredited institution. The scholarship enables Farmers Union to develop the next generation of farmer leaders who will succeed in agriculture and advocate for family farmers.
“As part of our mission to support beginning farmers and to ensure future generations continue to pursue this rewarding field, New England Farmers Union Education Foundation established this scholarship,” said Kate Snyder, director of membership and programs. “We look forward to having a robust group of applicants from across the region.” Click here to read more.
back to top
National Farmers Union (NFU) Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule has been named the 2015 Young Dairy Leaders Institute (YDLI) Distinguished Alumni Leader by the Holstein Foundation. New England Farmers Union congratulates Goule on this accomplishment and is grateful for his service on behalf of the dairy farmers of this region.
The Young Dairy Leaders Institute, a program of the Holstein Foundation, is a nationally recognized three-phase leadership and communication skills development program for young adults working in the dairy industry. Each year, the Holstein Foundation recognizes one YDLI alumnus who has made notable contributions and used the skills gained during his or her YDLI experience for the betterment of the dairy industry. Goule, a graduate of YDLI Class 5, is currently one of NFU’s media spokespersons and oversees the departments of government relations, communications, education and membership. Click here to read more.
back to top
National Farmers Union (NFU) is now accepting applications for the 2015 class of the Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI). The annual program is open to individuals who are new to farming, in the process of transferring an operation from a relative or non-relative to themselves, or contemplating a career in farming or ranching. New England Farmers Union is proud of the many farmers from New England who have attended the BFI and we hope more of the region’s beginning farmers apply for the class of 2015.
“The Beginning Farmers Institute underscores NFU’s commitment to growing a new generation of family agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “One unique feature of the Institute is that participants direct the agenda, allowing them to gain information on topics that will be most relevant to their particular operations. The small size and diversity of the group also ensures valuable interaction and learning opportunities among the participants.”
The BFI program helps students gain insight and practical skills needed by beginning farmers and ranchers, including business plan writing, financial planning, and researching available programs to help starting up and sustaining a successful operation. Click here to read more.
Interested applicants can download the 2015 application here.
back to top
At New England Farmers Union’s annual convention December 13, members voted in new board member Arthur Carroll of Limerick, ME. Carroll is the founder of Arthur Carroll Crop Insurance Agency. We spoke to Carroll about his work and what he sees as the future of risk management.
As weather patterns become more erratic and farmers’ margins grow slimmer, many New England producers are seeing crop insurance as a good bet. Carroll says he sees that as a good thing for the stability of the region’s agriculture.
Pointing to a worst-case scenario, he said, “You get a loss and you’re out of business.” But some farmers are seeing a different path. “If you become aware that crop insurance can limit that loss, you won’t dig a hole that takes years and years to get out of,” he said. “It’s a good management tool.” Click here to read more.
back to top
GUEST BLOG POST by Chris Colello, ALCM, ARM, CFPS, Regional Loss Control Director, Acadia Insurance
Snowflake, snowflake, how much do you weigh? Right around .002 grams. So, how do a bunch of snowflakes pancake buildings each year? With more snow in the forecast for much of New England, this becomes a very important question.
Generally speaking, it’s not the snowflakes that collapse a building, power lines or a tree. It’s the excessive water content that builds within the crystalline structure of the snow as it morphs from snowflakes, to pellets, to ice. Snow storms that have strong winds also pose a potential problem because they blow snow around, causing snow drifts that can distribute the snow on a roof unequally, which results in a torsional stress on the building’s structure. Click here to read more.
back to top
Please be aware of these important deadlines. And thanks to UMass Extension for passing them along.
February 27, 2015: The deadline to update yields and re-allocate bases for the Ag Risk Coverage (ACR)/Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Programs administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers with crop acreage bases (grain corn & silage, barley, wheat, grain sorghum and soybeans) have a one-time opportunity to update yields and re-allocate base acres. Contact your local FSA Office for more details.
March 15, 2015: Sales closing deadline to insure grain and silage corn or to make revisions to any existing grain and silage corn policies. Contact an authorized Federal Crop Insurance Agent at http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html.
March 15, 2015: Final deadline to signup for coverage on spring-seeded crops under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). NAP is available for all noninsured crops and as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, buy-up options are now available. Many dairy farmers supplement their farm income with crops such as pumpkins. Contact your local FSA Office for more details.
back to top
Read a roundup of February news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.
back to top
Check out our resources page, full of programs and services to help producers in our region. Here are upcoming educational programs that might interest you.
Free One-on-One Advising for Farmers in CT
Farmers can receive one-on-one advising from an agribusiness professional in five Connecticut locations between February and April in a program put together by the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension, and sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and the USDA Risk Management Agency.
Advisees set the agenda, and subjects covered include estate planning, grants, business and marketing, regulations, taxation, crop insurance and organic production. For details, click here.
Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension online Fall and Winter courses
This course is designed to help farmers develop their businesses. These 5- to 7-week online courses cost $200 total for up to four members of the same farm to participate. Details on courses here.
Healthy Food in Your Community: A Toolkit for Policy Change
Learn how to navigate the food policy system and join in efforts to make healthy, affordable food part of your community’s landscape.
If you have resources you’d like to see listed, please send us an email.
back to top
Please check the calendar on the New England Farmers Union website. We will post information about events that we will attend, and events that are of interest to our members. Please send along information if you have an event you would like us to post.
Nuts and Bolts of Farmland Leasing February 19, Webinar
The Harvest New England Agricultural Marketing Conference and Trade Show February 25-26, Sturbridge,MA
Webinar on Transitioning to Organic Agriculture March 3, Webinar
Managing Legal Risk While Scaling Up Your Farm or Food Production Business March 13, Orono, ME
NFU Convention: Driving the Future of Agriculture March 14-17, Wichita, KS
2015 Massachusetts Agriculture Day Macrh, 31, Boston, MA
Strolling of the Heifers June 5-7, Brattleboro, VT
back to top