In this issue: 

Commissioner's Column

Forefront

Business

Upcoming Events

News From USDA

In Every Issue


Commissioner's Column 

Image of Scott Soares

Dear Friends,

We’ve had a kinder winter than last, but have still experienced misfortunes that have negatively impacted farm businesses across our Commonwealth -- most recently a fire at Hadley's Allard Farm where a barn was destroyed and a number of 4H students lost their animals. On a brighter note, the economic impact of Massachusetts agriculture continues to show positive trending as we enter the new decade. We’re seeing diversification and differentiation throughout the industry and continued strong demand for locally produced agricultural products. To name a few examples:

  • A ranking for Massachusetts as leader in the U.S. for the percentage of farms that offer agri-tourism by the 2007 Agricultural Census
  • While we wait for 2009 totals, continued growth demonstrated by a 16% increase in farm gate revenue for 2008
  • Expansion of partnering activities, e.g. the linkage of Island Creek Oysters with Harpoon Brewery to launch an “Oyster Stout”
  • A growing number of winter farmers’ markets – some that include workshop offerings such as cooking lessons with locally grown herbs and grass-fed beef tastings
  • Continued high interest in Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA’s) with sign-ups underway now!

We’re seeing more and more farmers benefiting from the adoption of environmentally friendly and energy saving technology e.g. Amesbury’s Cider Hill Farm’s photo-voltaic panels or the five Franklin and Berkshire County farmers who have begun to generate biodiesel fuel from over 30 acres of sunflowers. MDAR has also been working with the Allen Farm on Martha’s Vineyard as they look to use wind turbine energy to power their electrical loads and potentially those of other farms via net metering. These new technologies reduce energy costs and make long-term good business sense.

As Massachusetts businesses look to reduce health care costs and retain a qualified workforce, trends show that a strong agricultural core works to influence both in a positive direction. Despite Massachusetts’ adults ranking second lowest in the nation for obesity following Colorado, Massachusetts still spends approximately $1.8 billion dollars a year in health care costs associated with obesity (this does not factor in intangibles such as loss of productivity and quality of life). The bad news is that our youth, aged 10-17, rank in the middle of the pack nationwide with a 30% obesity rate. Programs like Massachusetts Farm-to-School and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) improve access to wholesome, locally grown food, education for life-long healthy eating habits, and provide economic opportunities to our Massachusetts farmers. Watch for upcoming editions of the Farm and Market Report detailing new efforts between MDAR and state, health care, industry, and agricultural support organization partners to increase access to benefit the public and the farming community alike.

The preservation of our open working landscapes factors into a better aesthetic quality of life and into helping communities keep their tax rates down. Studies done by the American Farmland Trust and First Pioneer Farm Credit in three Massachusetts’ communities (Dartmouth, Deerfield, and Sterling) indicate that the cost of community services (schools, infrastructure, fire protection, etc.) for each $1.00 in tax revenue is on average 72% less to agriculture and open land than the cost of residential properties.

Around the MDAR homestead, 2010 looks like it is going to be every bit as busy as 2009! We have successfully modified the procurement process for statewide vendor contracts for plant materials and recently encouraged Massachusetts nurseries to submit proposals for the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) tree replanting recovery efforts in Worcester. MDAR continues to hold ALB training sessions to educate the public and the industry about this invasive pest, and, thanks to the good work of our sister agency, DCR, our outreach and education efforts will be enhanced in 2010. As a friendly reminder for the cold days ahead, please do not transport firewood, as this is the greatest threat for the spread of ALB. To learn more, click here.

MDAR is working to promote new opportunities for farmers wishing to commercially raise and sell poultry to direct markets via the Mobile Poultry Processing Unit thanks to a collaborative effort between state agencies, USDA Rural Development, and industry partners. The first training was held on January 28th with more opportunities in queue.

Finally a few miscellaneous notes: congratulations again on Ed Maltby’s recent appointment to the National Dairy Advisory Committee. It is nice to see one of fifteen seats filled by a representative from Massachusetts. Ed has a strong understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities facing our state. Also of note, reports from our Ag Development Director Mary Jordan indicate that attendance at meetings such as NOFA, workshops, and Ag Commissions are seeing record attendance – further indication of a good star alignment for Massachusetts agriculture. MDAR is continuing to explore new venues to promote agriculture. The Great Outdoors blog site has been a great success and we’ve just added Twitter to our repertoire of communications tools to inform folks about updates, events, and opportunities. Stay tuned.

Although we’re still in winter’s grips there are opportunities to “Go Local” at farmers markets and farm stores across our Commonwealth. I’m looking forward to participating in our maple sugaring kick-off at William’s Sugar House in Deerfield on March 5th and getting that first sweet taste of spring. Until then stay warm!

Best,

Image of Soares Signature

Scott J. Soares, Commissioner

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Forefront


MDAR Expands its Web-Based Outreach --Launches "AgCommishSoares" Twitter
Site

MDAR has started using several new web-based tools to further enhance its outreach, education, and information venues. In November, MDAR became a regular contributor to the Great Outdoors blog – a site dedicated to Massachusetts wildlife, parks, agriculture, and outdoor activities and events held across the 

Commonwealth. The site continues to grow in popularity and MDAR is pleased to be able to highlight the great diversity of the Commonwealth’s agriculture palette by using this new communications medium. The Great Outdoors Blog

This month, MDAR has just launched a Commissioner’s “Twitter” site (AgCommishSoares) as another communications medium through which the public can get real-time updates relative to all things agriculture e.g. news, events, trends, bulletins, etc.

These web-based tools are not intended to replace the channels currently in place for press and constituent communication. Press inquiries should be directed to Catherine Williams at catherine.williams@state.ma.us or 617-626-1809 and questions or complaints regarding agency services should be directed to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources at 617-626-1700. Rather, these tools are meant to enhance our ability to educate, empower, and inform the residents of Massachusetts. You can follow Commissioner Soares on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AgCommishSoares.

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MDAR Energy News 

FY 2010 Ag-Energy Grant Program
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) received over 30 responses for our MDAR Energy Grant RFR, deadline December 10, 2009, with a total request amount of approximately $700,000. MDAR is in the review process with awards to be announced shortly. The grant is to fund agricultural energy projects in an effort to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies by Massachusetts farms in order that farms can become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies.

DPU Order Allows Start of Wind and Solar Power “Net Metering” on December 1
As noted last month, net metering for wind, solar and agricultural energy installations, a provision of the Green Communities Act designed to encourage development of renewable power, took effect on December 1 under an order adopted by Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on Friday, November 13, 2009. The distribution companies required to comply with the net metering order are NGRID, NSTAR, WMECO and Unitil. If you own an existing renewable energy system and are in any of the distribution company service territories, you should have received a net metering application form so you can apply for net metering. If you haven’t received any notice you should contact your distribution company immediately and request to speak to their net metering contact person, and apply as early as possible. Contact Gerry Palano, Energy Coordinator, MDAR, if you have any questions, Gerald.Palano@state.ma.us, 617-626-1706, or visit the Dept. of Public Utilities at www.mass.gov/dpu website for more details.

MFEP, MA Woodlands and BPRC&D Workshop Series Completed
If you missed any of the recent energy workshops put on by MFEP, MDAR, BPRC&D, USDA RD, USDA FSA, USDA RD and MA Woodlands, you can still participate in farm energy programs – just contact the MA Farm Energy Program at www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org, or call 413-256-1607, to find out what you missed and how you can still be involved.

Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP):
The MA Farm Energy Program (MFEP) is in its 2nd year of operation and is a great resource for farms to find out more about state and federal related energy programs as well helping farmers access:

  • The Massachusetts Farm Energy Discount Program of MDAR
  • Electric and gas public utility energy conservation & efficiency programs
  • The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET) Initiatives
  • MFEP Technical Assistance and Incentives
  • Any other energy related program(s)

Through MFEP’s “Audits & Incentives Program”, the MFEP will make referrals to existing audit and incentive programs, provide “targeted” energy audits and/or renewable energy assessments, and provide financial incentives for implementation of audit recommendations. Higher priority will be given to farmers with less access to other audits and incentives programs. MFEP audits, assessments, and consultations will be paid at 75% with the applicant responsible for the remaining 25%. Please visit: www.berkshirepioneerrcd.org/mfep/energy.php to see how you can participate in the MA Farm Energy Program.

USDA’s EQIP Air Quality Financial Assistance Program - 2010 (www.ma.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/airquality/index.html)
The 1st round deadline of January 15, 2010 has passed. However, please continue to monitor potential 2nd round funding opportunities with NRCS this coming Spring. In FY 2010 the Massachusetts Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will again provide eligible producers with program support through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement cost effective and innovative practices that improve air quality that includes funding to eligible producers for energy conservation and renewable energy practices.

New Solar Carve Out Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)
Effective Jan 1, 2010, a new state solar renewable energy credit program is in effect. Created by DOER and MRET, the program is intended to provide environmental attribute financial incentives for new solar PV projects that were installed after Jan1, 2008 and did not receive MRET Commonwealth Solar 1 or significant ARRA funding. Please visit www.mass.gov/doer’s website for more information.

New MRET Commonwealth Solar II and Solar Stimulus Programs
The MA Renewable Energy Trust, now officially part of the MA Clean Energy Center, recently announced the next round of Commonwealth Solar programs, namely, Commonwealth Solar II and Solar Stimulus. Solar II is for PV residential and business projects up to 5 kW while Solar Stimulus is for business only between 5 and 200 kW. Please visit MRET’s website at www.masstech.org and find out the details!
Contact: Gerry Palano, Renewable Energy Coordinator, Gerald.Palano@state.ma.us, 617-626-1706, www.mass.gov/agr/programs/energy.

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Commissioner Soares and Massachusetts Legislator Recently Honored by
Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association
 

Mary Jesh, MNLA member, and Commissioner Scott J. Soares
Mary Jesh, MNLA member,and Commissioner Scott J. Soares

The Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA) recently awarded Commissioner Scott J. Soares and Representative Sarah Peake (4th Barnstable) with the 13th Annual 2010 Environmental Leadership Award. This award recognizes individuals who have consistently provided informed leadership in dealing with complex environmental issues. A ceremony was held at MNLA’s annual meeting held at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on February 4th. Additionally, the award includes the planting of a tree at a location designated by the recipient (either in the spring or the fall). Commissioner Soares is hoping to have a tree planted on the grounds of the Massachusetts Building at the Big E in Springfield.

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Commissioner Soares Shows Support for
Massachusetts Dairy Farmers
 

Massachusetts dairy farmers, indeed dairy farmers across the nation, have been hard hit by plummeting milk prices while at the same time, energy and grain costs continue to climb. On January 12th Commissioner Soares participated in a kick-off event at Hannaford’s Supermarket in North Quincy to celebrate a new initiative set in motion by Keep Local Farms (KLF). The program was inspired by a number of studies that indicated consumers were willing to support the dairy industry if they were confident that their support went directly to local dairy farms. KLF has emerged as such a consumer support mechanism that encourages New England milk retailers to stock locally produced milk and dairy products branded with a special “Keep Local Farms” logo. Hannaford Supermarket is becoming the first major retail chain to back this program.

Lucinda Williams and Commissioner Scott Soares (photo by Pete Lapriore)
Lucinda Williams and Commissioner Scott Soares (photo by Pete Lapriore)

One of our Massachusetts farms participating in the KLF program is the Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield. Owned by Darryl and Lucinda Williams, the farm has been in the family for thirteen generations. With 106 milking cows, and 85 young dairy animals, Lucinda and her husband Darryl recently joined the Keep Local Farms effort.

The KLF program has been up and running since September 12, 2009 and is starting to see strong momentum. Two colleges are on board – UVM began Nov 16 and Harvard began Oct 19 – where $0.10/single serve milk purchased goes to the Keep Local Farms fund that will be distributed to dairy farmers. The KLF website is also up and running at KeepLocalFarms.org. The site is educational and the pages getting the most hits are Farmer Profiles and Day on the Farm. If you are a dairy farmer and want to have your profile listed – please contact Diane Bothfeld at Diane.Bothfeld@state.vt.us.

In February, Hannaford’s is supporting the Keep Local Farms program through a contribution phase at the register – shoppers can contribute $2 or $5 toward the Keep Local Farms program to build a fund to make a meaningful payment to dairy farmers.

The partners working on the Keep Local Farms program include the New England Family Dairy Farms Cooperative and New England Dairy Promotion and the Vermont Dairy Promotion Council. They are working on adding more colleges to the program, increasing membership in the Cooperative, and working with consumers to raise awareness about the Keep Local Farms program throughout New England. Each of these partners is governed by dairy farmers from the New England States. The Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board recently voted to support KLF's efforts. 

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Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU) Training
on January 28th Well Attended
 

People attending Mobile Poultry Proceesing Unit Training

Cooperative partnerships at the local, state, and federal level are gaining measurable traction in moving forward innovative initiatives to promote new opportunities for Massachusetts farmers. Onmppu training classroom January 28th, a MPPU Phase 1 Training (application process and understanding regulations) was held in North Grafton at the Tufts Vet School. The training was targeted to farmers wishing to commercially raise and sell poultry to direct markets. For farmers who complete their state slaughter license and local board of health application and approval process, additional hands-on training and demonstration of MPPU use and operations will be scheduled in Spring 2010. For more information on the MPPU project, visit New Entry's website.

This important project has been a collaborative effort between state agencies, federal partner USDA Rural Development, and industry partners including Jennifer Hashley of the Tufts New Entry Sustainable Farming Project (NESFI) and Judy Gillan of NESFI. Training partners at the event included: New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, New England Small Farm Institute, MA Dept of Agricultural Resources, MA Dept of Environmental Protection, and MA Dept of Public Health.

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Savor Massachusetts News 

In the News: Sustainability, local sourcing, and nutrition are top restaurant menu trends for 2010 according to The National Restaurant Association. Survey

Savor Mass Logo "One taste at a time"

 results from over 1,800 professional chefs ranked nearly 215 culinary items. The top five trends are locally grown produce; locally sourced meats and seafood; sustainability as a culinary theme; mini-desserts; and locally produced wine and beer. 

Have you returned your Savor Massachusetts Assessment Survey? Your feedback is essential and appreciated so we may continue and improve our initiative. Please complete our assessment survey doc format of savor-assesment-survey.doc pdf format of savor-assesment-survey.pdf , which has approximately six questions. Contact Julia Grimaldi at julia.grimaldi@state.ma.us for more information on Savor Massachusetts or Culinary Tourism .

Stay tuned for new Savor Massachusetts web-resources including restaurants that buy-local!

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Two Photo Contest Opportunities 

1) John Deere Seeks Multi-generational Family Farms for 2011 Calendar

‘Generations To Come’ Calendar Theme to Feature Twelve Families

John Deere, the world’s leading provider of advanced products and services for agriculture and forestry, is seeking multigenerational families to feature for its 2011 John Deere Calendar. The theme, “Generations To Come,” will feature John Deere customers who have kept their farm – and John Deere equipment – in their family for multiple generations.

2010 Calendar Cover three pumpkin with baby in the middle

To be considered for the 2011 calendar, family farms must meet specific criteria. The farm needs to have been in the family for at least two, but preferably three or more, generations, with the expectation that it will stay in the family for future generations. Families must farm with John Deere agricultural equipment, with previous generations that also used it. Farms should also be located in a picturesque location with scenic farmland, rolling hills, fields or pastures near a pond or stream, or feature an interesting building, original farmhouse, or other unique land formation. In addition, families must be willing to have a professional photographer on-site for up to two days for a calendar photo shoot. Deadline is February 28, 2010.

For more information on the “Generations to Come” calendar, or to submit your farm family for consideration, please visit www.GenerationsCalendar.com or call (866) 736-6556.

2) Now Accepting Entries for the 2010 Agriculture Photo Contest

2010 Ag Calendar coverPhotographers who enjoy capturing images of the Bay State’s farms and farm and horticultural products are invited to enter the 2010 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest. Winning entries will be published in the 2011 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar. The contest and calendar are sponsored by Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc., the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) , and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

We are seeking photos that represent the traditional (maple sugaring, cranberries, dairy cows, flowers/plants, fall fruits, farmers and farm families), as well as the new and dynamic, such as on-farm renewable energy systems and urban agriculture. For farmers, its a great way to promote your farm!

Winning photographers will be credited in the calendar and will be invited to a ceremony at the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) in West Springfield this September (tickets to the fair included). Winning photos will be featured on MDAR’s home page during the corresponding month. Deadline June 1, 2010.

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Business


Grant Opportunities for Massachusetts Specialty Crops

1) Massgrown RFR posted-

MDAR is requesting responses from Massachusetts agricultural organizations and other non-profit groups that directly support agricultural initiatives, including commodity groups, buy local groups, farmers’ markets, agricultural fairs, and cooperatives to submit proposals on marketing projects that would enhance, promote, strengthen, utilize or foster the expansion of the “Massachusetts Grown…and Fresher” logo, brand and/or website, www.Mass.gov/Massgrown. Projects must enhance the competitiveness of Massachusetts Specialty Crops as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). RFR also posted at www.mass.gov/agr.

2) For Federal fiscal year 2010, The USDA has announced the availability of approximately $55 million to State Departments of Agriculture for Specialty Crops Block grants.

The Department will be releasing another RFR within the month to those eligible organizations to apply for these funds. A state application will then be submitted to the USDA – AMS focusing on the individual applications awarded through the state’s RFR process. The RFR will outline funding objectives for project proposals to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops pertaining to the following issues affecting the specialty crop industry: increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems; assisting all entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing Good Agricultural, Good Handling and Good Manufacturing practices, including cost share arrangements for funding audits of small farmer, packer and processor systems; investing in specialty crop research; enhancing food safety; developing new and improved specialty crop varieties; eradicating pest and plant health issues; and fostering organic and sustainable production practices.

The USDA suggests that States may wish to consider submitting grants that increase the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers. Increasing competiveness may include developing local and regional food systems, and improving food access in underserved communities.

Specialty Crop Brock Program - www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgp - What is an eligible specialty crop? You can access information concerning the definition of specialty crops and a listing of eligible specialty crops at Definition of Specialty Crops. 

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Ag Business Training Program is Having Another Record Year 

The Department’s Agricultural Business Training Program is having another record year working with new and established farms looking to tune up their plans and ideas. Six courses running around the state at full enrollment.

Participants in the three concept/startup classes (Exploring Your Small Farm Dream running in Ashland, Amherst and Fall River) come from 29 towns. The two full business planning courses (Tilling the Soil of Opportunity) are located in Wareham and Amherst, with participants from 23 towns. In pilot this year is a “between” course we are calling “Planner” because it requires having completed “Explorer”. This Amherst based class has 10 ag businesses from 9 towns. Lots of interest is evident in the opportunities Massachusetts offers for profitable farming at all scales.

These courses are offered on weekday nights in the cold months. Each year about half of the participants are drawn from folks on an advance contact list gathered during the year. We offer them first choice of location and dates. You can check out basic information on the MDAR website under “Ag Business Training Program” at www.mass.gov/agr/programs/abtp.

If you may be interested in taking one of the farm planning courses next winter, please email program director Rick Chandler now to be placed on the contact list: rick.chandler@state.ma.us. Be sure to tell him which course looks most appropriate for your anticipated farming stage at that time.

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For Farmers Who Wholesale -
How to Profit from Institutional Demand for "Locally Grown"
 

At each meeting we will talk about new ways to distribute products to schools, how to best promote locally grown fruits and vegetables to distributors who have school customers, and when to sell directly to schools.

Mass. Farm to School will also host meetings about institutional sales in other locations, at which school food service directors who have received special funding to buy fresh fruits and vegetables will join us for lunch:

February 17: Pittsfield Athenaeum
February 25: Wrentham Town Hall

Start time for all workshops is 10:30 a.m. and lunch will be provided. R.S.V.P. to mafarmtoschool@gmail.com, or call 413-253-3844. Directions will be provided. Thanks to MassDevelopment, MDAR, NEVBGA, Mass. Farm Bureau, and UMass Extension for co-sponsoring these workshops. Farm to School Project

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Interested in Hop Production? 

For Massachusetts and New England growers with interest to learn more about hops production, hops research and brewer interest in local hops, consider attending the 2010 Winter Hops Conference. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is one of the sponsoring partners.

March 26, 2010, 10–3 pm Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Vermont; cost $10

The meeting features Jason Perrault from Washington State, a fourth generation hop farmer; Rick Pedersen from New York, a member of the Northeast Hop Alliance and grower for over 10 years,;and Francois Biron from Canada who leads hops trials in Quebec. There will be a tour of the Trapp Family Lodge brewery after the meeting. Hopping to It!

For a copy of the program and to register by March 17th: Rosalie.madden@uvm.edu, (802)524-6501.

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UMass Dartmouth Announces Business Training Opportunities 

UMass Dartmouth Professional and Continuing is now offering an Entrepreneurial Training Assistance Program. Topics include: Defining Business & Business Person; Business Planning & Marketing Research; Marketing Strategies; Sales Process; Financing Your Business; Managing Time & Maintaining Focus; Identifying Customer Needs; Advertising & Public Relations; Cash Flow Projections; Internship/Practicum/Field Study.

The Entrepreneurial Training Assistance Program is twenty weeks of intensive skills training, individual coaching and interactive workshops, including one-on-one technical assistance, mentoring, and a one day internship for each participant – a total of 20 hours/per week. U.S. Veterans may qualify for free tuition. Other funding streams are also available. For more information, contact David Biggs @ 508.910.9068 or dbiggs@umassd.edu.

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Farmer Microloan Deadline February 26th 

We are pleased to announce that the Strolling of the Heifers Microloan Fund for New England Farmers will be accepting prequalified applications through February 26th, 2010 for loans of $15,000 or less. Applicants must live in one of the four counties of Western Massachusetts, and must prequalify.

For more information, please contact Dorothy Suput at 617-666-9637 or at dsuput@thecarrotproject.org.

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SBA ARC Loan Program 

ARC loans can be used to make payments of principal and interest, in full or in part, on one or more existing, qualifying small business loans for up to six months. ARC loans provide an immediate infusion of capital to small businesses to assist with making payments of principal and interest on existing debt. These loans allow borrowers to redirect cash flow from making loan payments to investing in their businesses, to help sustain the business and retain jobs. For example, making loan payments on existing loans with proceeds from an ARC loan can allow a business to focus more funds on core operations, such as buying inventory or making payroll.

ARC loans are interest-free to the borrower, carry a 100 percent guaranty from the SBA to the lender, and require no fees paid to SBA. Loan proceeds are provided over a six-month period and repayment of the ARC loan principal is deferred for 12 months after the last disbursement of the proceeds. Repayment can extend up to five years.

The best candidates for ARC loans are small businesses that in the past were profitable but are currently struggling, yet have been making loan payments or are just beginning to miss loan payments due to financial hardship. ARC loans are made by commercial lenders who are SBA participants.

Website: www.sba.gov/recovery/arcloanprogram. For more information, please contact Charles Smith, Lender Relations Specialist, at 617-565-5169 or csmith@sba.gov.

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Upcoming Events


Commissioner Soares to Highlight Positive Economic Impact of Agriculture at
Chamber of Commerce Business Forums

Commissioner Scott Soares will be participating in a series of business forums across the Commonwealth to discuss current agricultural economic trends, regional agricultural partnerships, and MDAR business development services and outreach.

Massachusetts has a growing and vibrant agricultural economy providing not only food but new products and services to meet changing consumer values, market demands, and energy needs. As agriculture evolves into a very diverse business enterprise, it continues to make significant contributions to the Commonwealth's local and regional economies.

MDAR is committed to engendering a spirit of entrepreneurship within the local agricultural communities and to promote the state’s agricultural economy which continues to expand and diversify, generate jobs and revenue while always contributing to the health and well being of Massachusetts residents.

The first business breakfast forum will be held in Ludlow, MA sponsored by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, East of the River 5 Town Chamber of Commerce on Friday, February 12, 2010. The topic will be: The Economic Trends of Massachusetts Agriculture. For more information, contact Jack Kowalski at Jack.Kowalski@state.ma.us or 617.626.1738.

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Reminder: Agriculture Day at the State House 

From the Berkshires to the Cape, to the farmers’ markets in Boston, each year this exciting event draws hundreds of farmers, agriculture officials, legislators, and industry leaders from across the Commonwealth. For one full day, participants gather at the State House to celebrate Massachusetts agriculture and discuss issues and legislation affecting their farms and communities. The event also includes a speaking program, ‘Agriculture Day’ awards, informational exhibits and a reception featuring Massachusetts’s farm and specialty food products.

To learn more about MA Agriculture Day at the State House, contact Lisa Damon at lisa.damon@state.ma.us or at 617-626-1731. Save the Date Flyer pdf format of ag_day_save_the_date.pdf

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2nd Statewide Agricultural Commissions Conference 

Saturday, March 20, 2010, Worcester State College
Student Center, 486 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01602

Today 130 Agricultural Commissions (AgComs) have organized across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

AgComs are actively engaged in raising the visibility of agriculture in their communities, providing a voice for agriculture in town hall, passing local Right to Farm Bylaws, protecting farmland and farm businesses, promoting farming and local farm products, establishing farmers markets, managing conflicts that arise regarding farming activities, connecting farmers to technical and financial services, and educating the public about the many benefits of retaining and encouraging farming in their communities.

This second statewide Agricultural Commissions Conference has been planned by AgCom members for AgCom members and for those interested in supporting agriculture and AgComs. Workshop topics were selected from issues that AgComs identified as high priority for education and discussion.

Attendees will also have time for networking and visiting exhibitors. We look forward to seeing you on the 20th! Agenda and Registration Form can be found at: www.massagcom.org.

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Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom Sponsoring
Workshop & Conference
 

Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom is sponsoring a Maple Sugaring Workshop during the School Vacation on Tuesday, February 16th at the Warren Farm and Sugarhouse in North Brookfield. MAC is also sponsoring our 9th Annual Winter Conference for Educators on Saturday, March 13 at the Paul R. Baird Middle School in Ludlow. Choose from six workshops that will run concurrently throughout the day.

Maple Sugaring Workshop for Educators on the Farm
During the winter break, spend Tuesday, February 16, at the Warren Farm & Sugar House in North Brookfield. In the morning over coffee and treats, learn about maple sugar history, Native American traditions and changes from Colonial times to today with owners Jan & Dale Wentworth. Find out about current threats to maple trees from global warming and the Asian longhorned beetle, and how their potential loss effects daily life and economic aspects in New England. Following a unique maple lunch, we’ll spend the afternoon out-of doors, exploring the sugaring operation and sugar house. You’ll assist with tubing installation and tap a tree, make maple candy and try out other hands-on activities to use in the classroom. Bring warm clothes and boots. Middle and high school teachers encouraged. The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fee of $30 includes PDPs, lunch and all materials.

9th Annual Winter Conference
MAC is sponsoring our 9th Annual Winter Conference for Educators at the Paul R. Baird Middle School in Ludlow on Saturday, March 13th, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The conference will provide teachers with activity ideas, resources and framework connections to bring agriculture alive in the classroom. Four workshops sessions will be held throughout the day, with a choice of six concurrent workshops in each session. Each will be taught by a teacher or a teacher working together with a farmer and will offer specific background and activities for either elementary, middle or high school level. The $50 fee includes all workshops, breakfast snack and lunch from nearby Randall’s Farm, materials and ten PDPs with a related classroom activity. The full list of workshops and a registration form can be found on our website at www.aginclassroom.org.

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Upcoming Flower Grower Programs 

Winter Flower Grower Program
Wednesday, February 10th
- Time: 9:30 pm-3:30 pm, D&D Greenhouses, 32 Hudson Rd, Stow, MA

Join us for a day long program with open houses at area greenhouses, then a program and tour at D&D Greenhouses. Featuring Consultant, Rick Segel on Profitability and Making Changes to Keep Your Business Profitable. Other topics to include, Using Biological Control for Spring Crops (D&D is using biocontrol), Reducing Plant Stretch, Update on Chrysanthemum White Rust and How a Website Can Work for Your Business. AM coffee and lunch will be available. Details: www.umass.edu

Employee Training for Garden Retailers: Green, Organic and Sustainable Solutions
Tuesday, March 23rd
- Time: 9:30 am - 3:30 pm, Place: Publick House, Sturbridge, MA

This will be a training for garden center employees, horticulture retailers and others interested in helping their customers with questions about pest control products that provide green, organic and sustainable solutions. Learn about products for home gardens, trees, shrubs and lawns and how they work to better assist customers to make proper choices for pest management.

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UMass Seminars for the Home Garden and Small Farm 

With the continued surge in interest in gowing one's own food, some clients will be asking their landscapers for help on how to get started. UMass Extension's 2010 Home Garden and Small Farm Series starts in a few weeks with a number of workshops on growing and managing fruit plantings in the backyard!

Locations vary around the state. To see a full schedule and more details, go to www.UMassGarden.com.

  • Feb. 20 - Pasture and Manure Management for Small-scale Livestock and Horse Farms
  • Feb. 27 - Growing & Pruning Apples in the Home Garden - Belchertown
  • March 6 - Grafting Apple Trees, A Hands-on Workshop - Peabody
  • March 13 - Growing & Pruning Berries in the Home Garden - Weston
  • March 20 - An Introduction to Growing Grapes - Belchertown
  • March 27 - Small-scale Viticulture for the Serious Grower - Belchertown
  • April 10 - The 100-Square-Ft, 25-Tree, 5-Variety Backyard Apple Orchard Fruiting Wall - Peabody
  • April 17 - Growing & Pruning Berries in the Home Garden - Northborough
  • April 24 - Managing Weeds Organically - Topsfield

To register, go to www.UMassGarden.com.

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2010 Community Tree Conference: Tree Invasives - What's Next? 

A Conference for Arborists, Foresters, Tree Wardens, Sugar Bush Owners and Anyone Who Loves Trees

Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Stockbridge Hall, UMass Amherst

This one-day conference is designed for arborists, tree wardens, municipal managers, city planners, foresters, sugar bush owners and landscape architects who are involved with the management of property, both private and public. The University of Massachusetts Extension, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the USDA Forest Service sponsor this annual conference.

Topics include:

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle Update - Ken Gooch, Mass. DCR, Forest Health and Clint McFarland, USDA APHIS
  • What Do We Plant Now? - Eric Seabourn, Mass. DCR Urban Forestry
  • Transplanting Bare-root Trees- Matt Foti, MCA, Foti Landscape and Tree Service
  • Plant Choices: A Landscape Architect's Perspective on the Native Plant Issue. Jack Ahern, LA, UMass Dept. of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning
  • Diseases Update for 2010 - Kathy Decker, VT Forest Specialist, Pathologist
  • Insect Update for 2010 - Robert Childs, Entomologist, UMass Plant Diagnostic Lab

Four pesticide contact hours available for categories 29, 36 and Applicator's License. The following association credits are available: 6 ISA, 5 SAF, 6 CFE, 1 MCA, 1 MCH and 2 MCLP. Sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Extension, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), and the USDA Forest Service.

For a registration form or to register online using a credit card, go to http://umassgreeninfo.org.

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Opportunity at Earth Day Festival at Ecotarium 

Are you interested in having a presence at a local Earth Day Festival? The EcoTarium, a museum of science and nature in Worcester, is holding its Earth Day

 Festival on Friday, April 23, 2010 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. This annual event draws more than 2,000 visitors. Keep in mind that this is a family event attended by adults with children in tow. Activities that engage children who visit your table will make your exhibit more popular! Do you have samples to taste or items to sell? You’ll have the opportunity to do just that and showcase your business during this popular family event. The exhibitor/vendor fee is $35 for non-profits and $150 for others. For questions or to sign-up, please contact Patricia Fields at (508) 929-2742 or at pfields@ecotarium.org, www.ecotarium.org.

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Opportunity at Audubon Sheep Shearing Open House 

The Annual Sheep Shearing Open House has been set for Saturday, April 3rd, 1 – 4pm at MA Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton. Vendors and promoters of wool and other MA Agricultural products such as honey, maple sugar, apples, and more are encouraged to participate. No charge, but donations are welcome. All proceeds go towards supporting educational programs at the sanctuary Please contact Deb Cary at Mass Audubon in Princeton at dcary@massaudubon.org for more information. www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/Wachusett_Meadow/index.php.

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Animal Behavior and Autism Presentation 

The University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, and University of Rhode Island Extension will host a Southern New England visit of Temple Grandin, a leading animal behaviorist and expert on humane treatment of our food animals, March 1 – 4, 2010, www.grandin.com.

Dr. Grandin will make a public presentation on “Animal Behavior and Autism” on Monday, March 1 at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. This event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a refreshment period. Dr. Grandin will speak at 7:30 p.m. There will be a book signing opportunity after Dr. Grandin speaks. Tickets at $15 each are available at www.osv.org or by calling Old Sturbridge Village at 800-733-1830. Advance tickets are recommended. For more information about the Old Sturbridge Village presentation please contact Alexis Conte at aconte@osv.org, 508-347-0396.

From March 2 through March 4 Dr. Grandin will meet with students, faculty, and staff at the University of Massachusetts, University of Connecticut and University of Rhode Island. For more information about these on-campus events, please use the contact information below:

  • March 2, 2010 - University of Mass., Carrie Chickering-Sears, ccsears@umext.umass.edu 413-549-3257
  • March 3, 2010 - University of Conn., Sheila Andrew, sheila.andrew@uconn.edu, 860-486-0803
  • March 4, 2010 - University of Rhode Island, Katherine Petersson, kpetersson@uri.edu, 401-874-2951

Sponsors to date for the entire four-day program include: Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor, Northeast Family Farms - a program of Dole and Bailey, Inc. Woburn MA, Northeast Farm Credit, Old Sturbridge Village (OSV), USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program, University of Connecticut, University of MA, University of Rhode Island, University of Connecticut College of Agriculture & Natural Resources Alumni Association (UCANRAA).

The Temple Grandin event is part of a tri-state project “Producing Natural Local Meat for Consumers,” funded by the US Department of Agriculture SARE Professional Development Program. Project Coordinator is Michael T. Keilty, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Educator at the University of CT College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Project Principal Investigators are: Joseph Bonelli, UCONN, Stephen Herbert, UMASS, and Kristen Castrataro, URI.

For more information contact the Grandin event planner, Jean King, at jeancking@gmail.com.

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News From USDA


Interest Rates as Low at 1.5% for Farm Purchase?

The Farm Service Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, has 1.2 million dollars available to lend to beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers in the State of Massachusetts under the Down payment loan program. To qualify, applicants must either be a beginning farmer (has not operated a farm for more then 10 years) or be socially disadvantaged (American Indians or Alaskan Native, Asians, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Hispanic and women).

To be eligible for a down payment loan, an eligible applicant must be able to put down 5% in cash and locate additional financing for 50% of the purchase price. To simplify, if an applicant wanted to purchase a $500,000 farm, they must have a $25,000 down payment, they could qualify for a $225,000 loan from Farm Service Agency and they would need a bank loan for $250,000.

Is a down payment loan not right for you? Farm Service Agency also has $1,050,000 available for real estate loans for socially disadvantaged farmers and $366,000 available for beginning farmer real estate loans. Interest rates are currently 4.75% with a 40 year term for the non down payment loans.

Farm Service Agency also has an active operating loan program, an emergency loan program for existing farmers that have suffered a production loss due to last years rainy weather and a guaranteed loan program.

Eligibility requirements are available in any Farm Service Agency County Office. For applicants located in Western and Central MA, contact Randy Kleiner at 413-585-1000 ext 2, for Plymouth, the Cape and Islands; contact Dawn Wilhelmsen at 508-295-6860 ext 1, and for Bristol and Norfolk County contact Roxanne Boisse at 508-669-6621 ext 1.

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MA State Farm Service Agency Announces Qualified Biomass Conversion Facility 

Eligible Material Owners are Encouraged to Contact Facility to Begin Participating in Biomass Crop Assistance Program

The Massachusetts State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Richard J. Burke announced that Pinetree Power-Fitchburg, a biomass conversion facility, is now qualified under the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Eligible material owners may be eligible for matching payments for delivery of eligible material to Pinetree Power – Fitchburg.

The contact information for this facility is listed on the FSA BCAP webpage located at www.fsa.usda.gov/energy. Owners of eligible material throughout Massachusetts and other regional states may contact their nearest FSA county office to begin applying for collection, harvest, storage and transportation (CHST) matching payments.

CHST matching payments shall not exceed $45 per dry-ton delivered to a qualified biomass facility. Eligible material owners may participate in this program for a period of two years. The purpose of the matching payments is to assist biomass producers with the CHST cost of delivering biomass to qualified biomass conversion facilities.

Eligible material owners or producers who market eligible material to a qualified biomass conversion facility must apply for the CHST matching payment program at their nearest FSA county office before the eligible material is delivered. Eligible material owners must provide an agreement with the qualified biomass conversion facility as part of an application for a CHST matching payment. After the product is delivered, a producer must provide FSA with documentation of product quantity, quality, and payment rate. County offices will validate payment requests with information provided under the terms of the Agreement with the qualified biomass conversion facilities.

For more information on the BCAP program including eligible materials, please visit www.fsa.usda.gov/energy or call your county office.

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FSA 2009  Program Payments in Massachusetts 

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) delivered over $16.3 billion in federal program payments to U. S. farmers and ranchers during FY 2009. Massachusetts agriculture has benefitted greatly from the millions of program dollars that assisted local producers throughout the previous fiscal year.

The following is a listing of programs and the amounts received by Massachusetts producers:

  • Direct and Counter-cyclical Program $ 413,771
  • Milk Income Loss Contract $1,994,811
  • Farm Storage Facility Loan Program $ 100,045
  • Price Support and LDPs $ 307,853
  • Conservation Reserve Program $ 2,359
  • Emergency Conservation Program $ 290,632
  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance $ 321,889
  • Crop Disaster Assistance Program $ 266,551

FSA Farm Loan Programs were also instrumental in financing agriculture in Massachusetts. The various loan totals they supplied to producers are as follows:

  • Guaranteed Loans $7,736,000
  • Direct Loans $5,106,000
  • Socially Disadvantaged Loans $ 675,000
  • Beginning Farmer Loans $3,050,000

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In Every Issue

Classified Ads 

  • Great Opportunity to get a Complete Timber Sawmill - for +/-35% of New Equipment Price! Complete Timber Sawmill FOR SALE. Live the dream!! Own Your Own Mill. SET UP FOR 8’ to 32’ LOGS/TIMBERS $375,000 Includes infeed live deck; HMC debarker; HMC modular mill w/AC50 4 knee carriage; Silva-Tech setworks; circular saw husk w/top saw; 2 log turners; HMC electric carriage drive; cab; 3 saw Cornell edger; IM multiple saw trimmer for 6-16’; 60’ green chain; separate timber sort roll system; 90’ “main vibrating” conveyer with metal detector; 58” Precision chip/screen/trailer loading system; long Patz sawdust and bark conveyers 50HP rotary air compressor and twin tower dryer; substructure; catwalks; 2 motor control centers w/1600 amp main. Autocad blueprints included. Mill built in 2004 with rebuilt and new equipment. Come see this mill in western Massachusetts if you want a GREAT TIMBER MILL. Also for sale: - Newman M68 planer trim saw with setworks. Left hand machine. 22" saw 6" depth of cut. $35,000 - Scissor Lift Table $1,500 - Double blower system $5,000 - Gang rip saw and dust collection system $7,500 - 650,000bf pine lumber For more info., photos, and video go to www.cowls.com. Contact: Cinda Jones, W. D. Cowls, Inc.: 413-549-1403 x350.
  • Essex Agricultural Society - A Year-Round Facility in Topsfield MA.
    Available for a great variety of events such as: Weddings, Showers, Picnics, Meetings, Lectures as well as Horse, Dog, Car, Boat, Antique and Art shows. Call 978-887-3186 or email events@topsfieldfair.org.
  • Farm Manager Wanted - 50-acre organic farm in Boxborough, MA seeks manager for all phases of production. APR farm has 12 acres arable land, some prime, and 35 acres woodland. Potential long-term position. 978-263-4346.
  • The 2010 Growing Season Is Approaching. Empire Packaging is ready with a full line of pick your own , retail and wholesale packaging to meet your needs. Serving New England Since 1989 (508) 426-7813 or (800) 562-5520.
  • Nuestras Raíces posting for 2 positions: Environmental Programs Assistant; Food Systems Organizer. Nuestras Raíces is a non-profit organization that promotes economic, human and community development through projects relating to food, agriculture and the environment. We are working to develop a more effective and equitable food system in Holyoke, through developing networks, partnerships and community leaders for environmental and policy change. Full posting at www.nuestras-raices.org.
  • Male alpaca (gelding): free to fiber farm home (alpaca, Llama, sheep). Full Peruvian pedigree, large, gentle, healthy, and carries a wonderful white fleece (8.6 pounds at last shearing). If interested please call 413-323-0297 or email graycraigfarm@gmail.com for more information.
  • Free Range is hazardous to your small flock. The Happy Chicken Tractor provides safer and affordable day care for your small backyard flock. Mobile, durable and assembles without tools. Details at www.chicktrac.com or call 978-724-6662 for more information.
  • 600 4X4 Round Bales of Hay, 600lbs. and $30each, Lunenburg, Paul Harris, 978-534-0484.

How to Place a Classified Ad

Classified ads are accepted free-of charge on a first-come basis. Be sure to include a phone number. No display ads will be accepted. Only one ad per business/individual per issue, unless space permits. Ads may run in consecutive issues, space permitting. Ads must be of interest to Massachusetts farmers. The Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) reserves the right to refuse any listing it deems inappropriate for publication. E-mail, fax or mail ads to: Farm & Market Report, MDAR, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114, fax: 617-626-1850, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

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Calendar 

  • February 10: Winter Flower Grower Program - D&D Farms, 32 Hudson Rd., Stow, MA. Full day educational program and tour of D&D Farms. For more info: www.umass.edu/umext/floriculture/ (click event listing). Co-sponsored by UMass Ext. and MA Flower Growers Assoc.
  • February 18: "Energizing the Rural Landscape - Renewable Power and Energy Efficiency Opportunities for Our Farms, Homes, and Communities" - A One-Day Workshop Hosted by the Southern New England Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SNEC-SWCS). 8 am - 4:30 pm, Periwinkles Restaurant & Banquet Hall, Auburn, MA, To register: www.swcssnec.org/ For more information contact: Jeff Anliker at anliker@charter.net.
  • February 21:Kidding and Sales Workshop - Hames & Axle Farm, Ashburnham, MA. www.hamesaxle.com/Workshops.html. Worried about those first goat kids being born? What meds do you need and what do you do about registering? We’ll talk about these things and more. Starts at 1:00 pm, Contact Farm@hamesaxle.com or 978-827-1305 for more information.
  • February 25: Taking the "Surprise" out of the Schedule F: Preparing Farm Taxes - New Entry training center, Lowell, MA, 6 - 9 pm. Don't wait until the last minute and learn you have a big tax bill...learn how to organize your 2009 farm records and prepare the Schedule F tax form. Find the best way to account for your farm business expenses and reduce your tax liability. Take steps to better track your expenses going forward and plan for next year! Free! To Register: email nesfp@tufts.edu.
  • March 1: MA Specialty Foods Association Annual Meeting - Lanam Club, Andover, MA. Networking and member displays, 4:30-6 PM, Dinner and Annual Meeting 6-9 PM. 800-813-5862 for info.
  • March 13: 9th Annual Winter Conference for Educators - Paul R. Baird Middle School, Ludlow, 8:30-3:30pm. Info at www.aginclassroom.org
  • March 18: 2010 NH Dairy Management Conference in West Lebanon. For more information and a registration form call (603)787-6944 or go to visit brochure.
  • March 23: Employee Training for Garden Retailers: Green, Organic and Sustainable Solutions - Publick House, Sturbridge. For more info: www.umass.edu/umext/floriculture/ (click event listing).
  • March 25: The Massachusetts Poultry Enhancement Council Meeting - Oxford Free Public Library, Charles Larned Memorial, 339 Main St., Oxford, MA 01540, 5:30pm to 8pm, 508-987-6003. Agenda: Poultry vaccination; handling, application and applicability. Poultry slaughter options; USDA or Mass. licensed. Open discussions of any Mass. poultry related issues (as time permits). All who have an interest in poultry are encouraged to attend
  • March 30: Northeast Harvest Ag Day At Coolidge Hall, Topsfield Fairgrounds, Topsfield, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Questions? Call 978-887-5000 or email joy@topsfieldfair.org.
  • April 8: Agriculture Day at the Statehouse - Save the Date pdf format of ag_day_save_the_date.pdf - To reserve a table, fill out reservation form pdf format of ag_day_reservation.pdf .
  • April 17: Cape Cod Horticultural Conference, Barnstable High Performing Arts Center, Hyannis, 8 - 4pm. Questions? Call 508-375-6690 or visit www.capecodextension.org.

*** If you have events you would like listed to our Ag industry calendar webpage, www.mass.gov/agr/events/coming_up, or
Consumer events at: www.mass.gov/agr/events, email Rick LeBlanc at richard.leblanc@state.ma.us.

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About the Farm & Market Report 

Published bi-monthly by:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, Governor
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles, Secretary
Department of Agricultural Resources, Scott J. Soares, Commissioner

Boston Office:
251 Causeway St., Suite 500,
Boston, MA 02114
617-626-1700, Fax: 617-626-1850
Amherst Satellite Office:
101 University Drive, Suite C4
Amherst, MA 01002
413-548-1900, Fax: 413-548-1901

Division Directors

Next issue to be published for April / May. Please send news, calendar and/or classified information by March 29th to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us, or fax to 617-626-1850. To unsubscribe or change your address, send an e-mail message to Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us or call 617-626-1759.