A coalition of agricultural agencies in Maine will again focus on the needs of beginning farmers this year during the Maine Agricultural Trades Show, Jan. 15-17, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center.
Since nearly a third of Maine’s farmers identify as “beginning farmers,” the Beginning Farmer Resource Network (BFRN) will host a series of workshops and talks to help new and aspiring farmers in Maine navigate the various programs and services available to help them succeed in new agricultural enterprises.
“Beginning farmers know better than anyone that there is no instruction manual for your first decade in agriculture,” said Tori Lee Jackson, University of Maine Associate Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and BFRN member. “As a coalition of agricultural agencies and organizations, the Beginning Farmer Resource Network is working to help aspiring and beginning farmers find their ‘farm business success’ in an easy and practical manner.”
BFRN will host a variety of programs throughout this year’s Maine Agricultural Trades Show, with special workshops on Wednesday, Jan. 16., focusing on topics including soil health, problem solving, and woodland management. While the free BFRN workshops focus on the needs of aspiring and beginning farmers, they are open to all who are interested in attending.
BFRN Workshops and Programs Jan. 16, 2019
Digging into Soils: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Aroostook/Androscoggin Room) Join soil scientists and farmers who have worked together to apply innovative strategies to improve soil health. Learn how different soil types influence management and what methods farmers are using to increase soil health, decrease fertility needs, and improve soil water management.
Gearing up after Buying Land: 10 a.m. – noon (Piscataquis Room) You’ve purchased your farm land, now how do you set up the infrastructure to make it work for you now and into the future? Learn how farmers have worked with technical service providers to realize their production and financial goals.
Problem Solving Resources: Figuring out who to call: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (Aroostook/Androscoggin Room) Hear from experienced farmers who’ve worked with professional agricultural and business service providers to solve a variety of problems on their farms. Learn how service providers can help you identify problems and strategize/plan solutions to become trusted members of your professional resource team.
Making Your Woods Work for You: 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. (Piscataquis Room) Your woodlands can be an economic and ecological asset for your farm. Learn how you can work with local professionals. Program features farmers and professionals from the Maine Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Soil & Water Conservation Districts.
BFRN will also offer presentations each morning of the Trades Show on the Main Stage beginning at 9:15 a.m., and Agricultural Service Providers working with BRFN will also be on hand each day to meet with farmers in the Knox Room and discuss opportunities for farm business success.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “a beginning farmer is someone who has operated a farm for ten years or less.” Since this definition is used for all USDA beginning farmer loan programs, it has become the most commonly accepted definition. Nearly one third of the farmers in Maine reported having 10 years or less of experience on their present farm, according to the latest USDA 2012 Agricultural Census.
For more information visit the BFRN website at: https://extension.umaine.edu/beginning-farmer-resource-network/