In this issue:

Forefront

Business

Upcoming Events

In Every Issue


Commissioner's Column

Hello Friends, Partners and Supporters:

Image of Scott Soares

I recently sent out an email blast to many of my contacts about some rather significant changes coming to MDAR in the coming months but wanted to make sure that all of our Farm & Market Report readers know too.

Namely after being privileged to do work that I have loved and put everything into for 17 years – the last several of which as the Department’s Commissioner, I will be leaving by July to assume the role of Executive Director for the Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC).  Indeed the CMC has presented a truly unique opportunity to me that will allow my staying in Massachusetts, exposure to international marketing opportunities and working with one of the most respected commodity groups in our Commonwealth as well as 9 other states across our Nation.  In other words, they made me an offer that I couldn't refuse.  Nonetheless, in consideration of my always viewing my work with you and for agriculture in Massachusetts as much more than a job, leaving for me is certainly bittersweet.

MDAR, as our Nation’s oldest State Department of Agriculture (at 160 years), has seen 18 transitions in agency leadership.  Although certainly each of these transitions has met its own set of challenges, they have also given us opportunities to flourish and to build upon the successes that each Commissioner's tenure has contributed to making the Department the great agency that it is today.  In fact were it not for the process of transition, I would not have had the great privilege to serve as Commissioner or to be a part of the great successes that otherwise may not have happened at all.  With this in mind, as the MDAR transitions to its 19th Commissioner, you should remain confident that the Agency's course and mission are firm and well charted and furthermore that the high level of service and responsiveness for which MDAR is known will be maintained.

To this end, it is my great pleasure to restate Governor Patrick’s announcement that Greg Watson, a former Commissioner and a long-standing friend of agriculture, is taking over the MDAR reigns!  This is certainly a reflection of the Patrick/Murray Administration’s recognition and support of Massachusetts’s agriculture, and brings confidence that we all can look forward to a very able, experienced and well-respected Commissioner to continue the great work towards establishing a sustainable agricultural future for our Commonwealth.

Although clearly no stranger to Massachusetts agriculture or many of you, during a transitional period over the month of April, I’m looking forward to helping re-familiarize Greg as he assumes the position as MDAR’s next Commissioner.

With all of the forgoing in mind and more than I can express in this letter, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all of you for your support of Massachusetts’s agriculture, the Department of Agricultural Resources, and the programs and services that the Agency provides.  I also encourage you all to maintain your support of the great team that, as many of you know, is the heart and soul of what makes the Department as effective as it is towards, providing for the adoption of new technology and methodology that is economically and environmentally sound, protecting animal health and welfare, preserving our working landscapes and promoting our Commonwealth's ever evolving agricultural identity while contributing to a sustainable, safe and secure food system.  Lastly, I further encourage you all to remain engaged and active in your support of agriculture and to be cognizant of your important role whether a producer or consumer of agricultural products because indeed, to borrow a quote from Wendell Berry, "Eating is an agricultural act"!

On another exciting note, you’ll see below a news item that we've released our MDAR 2011 Annual Report pdf format of MDAR 2011 Annual Report
. I encourage you to take a look at this account of the impressive undertakings of MDAR! I hope it is as informative to you as it is a reflection to me of the outstanding commitment and accomplishments of the most passionate and dedicated group of folks that I've ever been privileged to work with!

And finally, I am pleased that my colleague at MassDEP, Commissioner Ken Kimmel is this month’s guest columnist. Under Ken’s leadership MassDEP is ramping up efforts to divert organics from the solid waste stream into energy production and composting. On a parallel track we are revising our composting regulations to ensure that agricultural operations are well positioned to take advantage of the expected increased need for organics recycling. Our goal is to ensure that farmers have the skills, training and resources to be able to manage organics in a responsible and environmentally sound way while generating a quality product. Thanks to Ken and MassDEP for helping to lead the way.

In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you along the way as we continue our collective efforts towards a vibrant agricultural future in our great Commonwealth!

Best,
Image of Soares Signature

Scott J. Soares, Commissioner

www.twitter.com/AgCommishSoares

Back to Table of Contents


Special Guest Column

by Kenneth Kimmell, MassDEP Commissioner

Organics Diversion and Clean Energy in Massachusetts

Massachusetts became an early leader in unifying energy policy and environmental protection in 2007 when Governor Deval Patrick brought the state’s energy agencies ( Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and Department of Public Utilities ) into the Environmental Secretariat. This move emphasized the Administration’s commitment to ensuring the protection of public health and the environment in our efforts to promote clean and efficient sources of energy.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Results Program – launched in November 2011 by the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and DOER – is a new chapter in this integration. Structured to lend MassDEP’s regulatory and scientific environmental expertise to support DOER’s work towards achieving Patrick Administration clean energy goals, Commissioner Mark Sylvia and I have established ambitious goals.

A core component of the new program is promoting anaerobic digestion, a process which breaks down food and other organic waste to produce a biogas for electricity generating and heat. Under this new program, we have set the goal of increasing energy production from aerobic and anaerobic digestion to 50 megawatts by 2020. We have also set the goal of diverting 350,000 tons per year of organic material from landfills and incinerators by boosting the use of anaerobic digestion, combined heat and power, and composting and recycling facilities.

Promoting anaerobic digestion and organic waste diversion – including at farms and wastewater treatment plants, as well as stand-alone facilities – helps us meet our clean energy and solid waste goals. And anaerobic digestion has proven benefits to farms, such as:

  • Improved management of manure from dairy farms and generation of additional sources of farm revenues;
  • Converts food waste into valuable soil amendment or fertilizer products; and
  • Reduces reliance on disposal facilities.

Together with our partners at the Department of Agricultural Resources, DOER, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, MassDEP has developed a comprehensive strategy to support and drive this diversion and capture of food waste for valuable uses. This includes streamlining and clarifying regulatory requirements, increasing diversion of food waste at large businesses and institutions, building our collection infrastructure, and fostering the growth of processing capacity through a set of grant and loan programs.

Already, several Massachusetts farms are leading the way in this effort. Jordan Farm in Rutland is one of those leaders, building an on-farm anaerobic digester unit that will generate approximately 1.7 million kilowatt hours/year from a combination of dairy cow manure and source separated food waste. Four more farm digesters are on the way, thanks to this innovative partnership between the dairy farms, AGreen Energy, Quasar, and New England Organics. Pine Island Farm in Sheffield also has established an anaerobic digester that is producing electricity by running a 225 kw generator by capturing methane gas from its cow manure.

Diverting organic waste from landfills and incinerators not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, it creates jobs, saves municipalities through reduced solid waste disposal costs, and produces low-cost heat and power.

Kenneth L. Kimmell is Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Since his appointment in 2011, MassDEP has launched a clean energy results program to focus on the permitting and siting of clean energy facilities; completed a top-to-bottom review of all of MassDEP's permit programs and identified over twenty regulatory changes to streamline permitting; and commenced an overhaul of MassDEP's information technology systems to make the agency more efficient, transparent, and accessible to the regulated community and the public.

Mr. Kimmell joined the Patrick Administration in January 2007 as general counsel of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In that capacity, he focused on major legislative initiatives, such as the merger of energy and environmental agencies into one secretariat; the Green Communities Act, the Global Warming Solutions Act, and the Oceans Act; state and federal permitting of the Cape Wind project, the nation's first off-shore wind project; and development and early implementation of policy initiatives such as the MEPA Greenhouse Gas policy, a first-in-the-nation policy that requires developers of major projects to identify, avoid, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to joining the Patrick-Murray Administration, Mr. Kimmell was in private practice and focused on environmental and land use law and litigation.

Back to Table of Contents


Forefront


MDAR's 2011 Annual Report Now Available Online

Learn about MDAR’s over 60 programs and services that are:

  • promoting 7,700+ farms
  • protecting the health of our domestic animal population
  • preserving our working landscapes for future generations
  • safeguarding public health through pesticide regulation and the control of mosquitoes
  • expanding environmental and energy conservation opportunities for farms
  • making our farms more economically viable, and
  • increasing access to nutritious, affordable, local, and safe food for all of us!

Click here pdf format of MDAR 2011 Annual Report
to view the electronic report. Cover photo credits go to MDAR staff: Rick Chandler, Phyllis Michalewich, Craig Richov, and David Webber.

Back to Table of Contents


Energy News

AgEnergy FY2013 Grant Program Announced

MDAR’s Annual Agricultural Energy Grant Program (AgEnergy) has been announced. The purpose of the MDAR’s Ag-Energy Grant is to assist agricultural operations in an effort to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies in order that they can become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies.

Applications are due April 30, 2012.

The AgEnergy Grant Program has funded over $1.1 million to 90 farm energy projects over the past 4 years. Reimbursement grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013. Ag-Energy Grant applications are available at: www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aegp

USDA NRCS Still Has One More EQIP Signup Date

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) still has one of three rounds of funding left for their four conservation program in Massachusetts. These federal programs, authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, provide financial and technical help to farmers and forest land owners to protect soil, water and other natural resources.

The assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA), and the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), all administered by NRCS.

NRCS’ three ranking periods have the following closing dates: February 3, March 30, and June 1, 2012. Farmers can submit applications for these programs anytime throughout the year; all complete applications will be batched and ranked on these closing dates for funding decisions. For an application to be considered complete for ranking, the following criteria apply:

  • All land and producer eligibility requirements must have been met.
  • A conservation plan identifying conservation practices to be included for proposed funding must be finalized for the enrolled land.

As well with regarding to energy projects, farmers wishing to apply to the ”Clean Air and Energy” component under EQIP will need to submit an NRCS approved energy audit. Farmers will need to apply to NRCS’ AgEMP program for this audit. Eight energy efficiency funding opportunities will be available, including greenhouse and maple sugaring technologies. For more information please contact your nearest NRCS office.

Update & Reminder - MA Net Metering Reaching Capacity

Here is the latest information on net metering capacity by utility from their respective webpages with bold highlights by MDAR. The private sector cap obligation for each utility is the 1% value stated within; the 2% is for state, city and town governments. Currently, approval as a net metered service is based on actually operating, i.e., transmitting power to and from the grid, and is on a first come, first served basis. Therefore, only those who have been inter-connected and commissioned to operate with their respective utility count toward each utility’s respective net metering cap obligation. Those with applications to net meter do not count toward the cap until they have finally been inter-connected and commissioned.

As an example: National Grid has an obligation to provide net meter service equal to 51.31 MWs or 51,310 KWs. There are currently 32,900 KWs commissioned and operating; only 18,401 KWs are needed for National Grid to reach their cap obligation of 1%, at which time under current regulations no more net metering projects are required to be accepted by National Grid. As you can see below, there are an additional 165,645 KWs in line with an application to net meter but do not count yet until they are commissioned to do so. Only the next 18,401KWs from either those applications or any new applications who are commissioned first to operate will be allowed to net meter.

National Grid: www.nationalgridus.com/masselectric/home/energyeff/4_net-mtr.asp

The net-metering provision as approved by the MA DPU limits net-metering to 1% of a utility's historical peak load for private customers. There are regulations being promulgated to expand the net-metering cap to allow 2% for municipalities. Once in place, the amount of projects that would fall under these caps would be as follows:

National Grid’s historical peak load of 5,131 MWs occurred on August 2, 2006 in Massachusetts Electric territory; making the 1% limit 51.31 MWs and the 2% limit 102.62 MWs.

As of March 27, 2012 in Massachusetts, there are 32,900 KWs with net-metering service under the 1% limit and 11,045 KWs with net-metering service under the 2% limit.

There are 165,645 KWs with net metering applications in the process of being interconnected under the 1% limit and of those 29,829 KWs have returned the Schedule Z.

There are 14,068 KWs with net metering applications in the process of being interconnected under the 2% limit and of those 9,732 KWs have returned the Schedule Z.

NSTAR: www.nstar.com/business/rates_tariffs/interconnections/other.asp

The following is historical information about NSTAR's electric system and key milestones.

  • NSTAR's Highest Historical Peak Load: 4,978 MW (July 22, 2011)
  • 1% "Private Net Metering Cap: 49.78 MW (1% of highest historical peak load)
  • 2% "Municipal Net Metering Cap: 99.56 MW (2% of highest historical peak load)

Net Metering Totals as of March 6, 2012: 1% "Private" Net Metering Cap (49.78 MW cap)

  • Projects Online: 24.04 MW
  • Projects with Applications Submitted: 133.91 MW
  • Total (both above): 157.95 MW

2% "Municipal" Net Metering Cap (99.56 Megawatt cap)

  • Projects Online: 14.78 MW
  • Projects with Applications Submitted: 38.32 MW
  • Total (both above): 53.1 MW

Unitil: www.unitil.com/energy-for-residents/electric-information/distributed-energy-resources/net-metering

Note: No Updates Found - information below is from last reporting information found through January, 2012.
Net Metering is allowed up to 1% of the Distribution Company's historical peak load for non-municipal customers and 2% of the historical peak load for municipal customers or other government entities, including current customers and approved interconnections.

Historical Peak Load: 102 MW (July 27, 2005)
Non-Municipal Customers  
Net Metering Cap: 1.02 MW, or 1,020 KWs (1% of historical peak load)
Net Metering Online as of 01/12: 0.72 MW* (or 720 KWs or approximately 70.5% of cap obligation.)
Amount Remaining: 0.30 MW*
Completed Applications Pending: 0.23 MW*(or 230 KWs)

Municipal Customers  
Net Metering Cap: 2.04 MW (2% of historical peak load)
Net Metering Online as of 01/12: 0.26 MW*
Amount Remaining: 1.78 MW*
Completed Applications Pending: 1.50 MW*

*Calculated using 80% estimated DC rating for solar pv.

WMECO: www.wmeco.com/residential/understandbill/ratesrules/NetMetering.aspx

Service under this tariff will be closed to new applicants once the aggregate capacity of all Class 1, 2 and 3 facilities has reached one percent of WMECo's highest historical peak load. The highest historical peak load at WMECo is 845 MW and was recorded on August 2, 2006. One percent of the highest historical peak load is 8.45 MW. As of March 1, 2012, the aggregate capacity of all installed Class 1, 2 and 3 facilities is 5.924 MW. Additionally, the aggregate capacity of Class 1, 2 and 3 facilities pending interconnection is 35.973 MW.

Back to Table of Contents


Riding the Rails” Campaign Goes Live April/May

The spring campaign will target the MBTA’s North/South/Metro West Commuter Rails with eye-catching train posters using “QR” codes. Some commodity groups have already signed up to help match the $10,000 USDA Specialty Crop grant received by MDAR to optimally leverage this great opportunity that will reach hundreds of thousands of commuters over multiple months. The MA Flower Growers Assoc. and The MA Nursery and Landscapers Assoc. are kicking off a "Plant Something" campaign along with five other states across the country and are encouraging other states to follow. You will start to see this slogan promoted at nurseries and greenhouses across the state, along with large decals on business delivery trucks in an effort to spread the word!

Planned for June are posters on the commuter rails which will focus on "June is Dairy Month" and is sponsored by the MA Dairy Promotion Board. With matching funds from MA Fruit Growers, MA Winery Association, and MA Christmas Tree Association, posters will be placed in the fall promoting Pick-Your-Own and Ag-tourism opportunities across the Commonwealth. If you have questions on collaborating, contact Rick LeBlanc, 617-626-1759, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

*All Farm Businesses (retailers and wholesalers): As part of our on-going marketing efforts, we highlight Massachusetts farms and agricultural businesses through various publications, special events, B2B opportunities, and most importantly, on our website . Helping you find profitable markets for your products is an important part of our mission. As a Massachusetts producer, you are entitled to the many different listings on the MassGrown website and brochures. If you would like to be included on our map , or update your information, please click here pdf format of 1-mktg-farms-survey .pdf
for our Farm Marketing Survey. If questions, contact Rick LeBlanc, Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

Back to Table of Contents


UMass Amherst Student-Led Permaculture Committee Wins White House ‘Campus Champions of Change Challenge’

Campus team is top vote-getter in national contest

Results of nationwide voting are officially in and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s student-led Permaculture Committee has won one of the top five spots in the White House’s "Campus Champions of Change Challenge." Fifteen committee members will travel to Washington, D.C. on March 15 to accept the award, take part in a panel discussion and take a White House tour.

The UMass Amherst Permaculture Committee received 59,841 votes, the most among 15 other finalists in the challenge. In second place with 57,115 votes was a food pantry at the University of Arkansas. As a top-five finisher, the UMass Amherst team will appear on MTV Act and in an episode of mtvU’s program, "The Dean’s List.

Back to Table of Contents


New England Cottontails Still Need Your Help

In December of 2010, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) appealed to sportsmen, highway department workers, animal control officers, and other interested citizens to collect and provide MassWildlife with cottontail carcasses or cottontail skulls. That call for action kicked off a statewide survey of cottontail rabbits to assess the distribution and population of two kinds of cottontails in the Commonwealth, the common and non-native eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), and the imperiled native New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis). The New England cottontail has been designated as a Candidate Species for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. MassWildlife is making a special appeal to animal control officers in the central and western regions of the state to continue the collection effort and to alert others in their communities to participate in this citizen science opportunity.

Since the first appeal, MassWildlife received approximately 500 cottontail specimens. From the collected specimens, about 10% have been identified as New England cottontails, and significantly, several new local populations of New England cottontails have been identified. The majority of cottontail carcasses came from the eastern and southeastern parts of the state. MassWildlife needs a sample that is characteristic of the entire Commonwealth and is especially in need of more cottontail specimens from Worcester County and all points west. MassWildlife will still gratefully accept cottontails from anywhere in the state.

The only way to distinguish between the two cottontails is by examining various skull features, or submitting tissue samples for DNA analysis. Therefore, carcasses in any condition can be donated to facilitate the survey effort. Road-killed carcasses or cottontail heads should be placed in a plastic bag and frozen until they can be dropped off at a MassWildlife District Office, MassWildlife Hatchery, or MassWildlife's Field Headquarters in Westborough. Be sure to wear gloves when handling carcasses. Please include a note with your contact information, date of collection, and detailed, specific location information such as a street address, intersection, or other discernable landmark.

The location where the carcass was collected is the single most important piece of data used to assess the cottontails’ distribution, so please make every effort to record as specific a collection location as possible. A marked topographic map, Google map, or GPS coordinates are ideal, but any detailed, specific location information will greatly aid biologists.

The cottontail survey in Massachusetts is part of a regional effort, the New England Cottontail Initiative, to conserve New England cottontail populations. The Initiative involves partnerships with state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations and other landowners working together to identify populations of New England cottontails and to create or maintain large patches of suitable habitat for them. Any inquiries can be directed to David Scarpitti, Upland Game Biologist, David.Scarpitti@state.ma.us, 508-389-6377

Back to Table of Contents


New 2012 Agricultural Fairs Brochure Fresh Off the Press

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association (MAFA), the Department is pleased to announce that the 2012 brochure highlighting the 45 agricultural fairs held across the State is now available. From the scenic Berkshires to the sea-breezes of the Cape Cod, Massachusetts agricultural fairs offer something for everyone. See, taste, and experience exceptional local products - farm animal exhibits - horse shows - arts-and-crafts from local artisans - fruit, vegetable and garden demonstrations - 4H - children's activities - and lots of fun for the whole family!

Special recognition to the MAFA organization for their financial sponsorship of the Agricultural Fairs Brochure. MAFA’s mission is to encourage, promote, and preserve agricultural activities in the Commonwealth through its member fairs and individual programs. If you would like a copy of the 2012 Fairs Brochure please contact Ellen Hart at 617-626-1742 or email Ellen.Hart@state.ma.us. If you would like to view the fairs on our MassGrown google map, click here.

Back to Table of Contents


Now Accepting Entries for the 2012 Agriculture Photo Contest

Photographers who enjoy capturing images of the Bay State’s farms and farm and horticultural products are invited to enter the 2012 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar Photo Contest. Winning entries will be published in the 2013 Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar. The contest and calendar are sponsored by Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc., and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) .

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! View last year’s winners.

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. Click here for Entry Form. Deadline June 1, 2012.

Back to Table of Contents


Governor Patrick Tours Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury

Image of Fishermen

On a spring, low-tide-at-9:41-a.m. March 27th morning, MDAR’s aquaculture specialist Sean Bowen joined Governor Patrick to visit Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury. The Governor enjoyed experiencing shellfish aquaculture first hand with founder and owner Skip Bennett who highlighted the environmental and economic benefits of this unique agricultural sector. The Governor toured the newly operating shellfish spawning and hatchery facility, and had the opportunity to sort oysters bound for some of the country’s finest restaurants.

The Massachusetts shellfish aquaculture industry is comprised of nearly 300 famers, who utilize 1,000 acres, and produce over $11 million worth of oysters, quahogs, scallops, mussels, and clams. Shellfish aquaculture has been demonstrated to be environmentally beneficial, helping to reduce nitrogen loading, an issue of increasing concern, especially in coastal communities.

MDAR actively supports the aquaculture industry through its ongoing funding of the Aquaculture Centers Network, awarding of Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program grants, and through hands –on assistance provided by the Department’s aquaculture specialist. With proper support and the assurance of a consistent regulatory climate, Massachusetts has the potential to become a national leader in shellfish aquaculture. To learn more about MDAR’s aquaculture program, click here: www.mass.gov/agr/aquaculture.

Back to Table of Contents


Assistant Commissioner Nathan L’Etoile Returns to the Family Farm

Image of Nathan Letoile

After three years with MDAR, Assistant Commissioner Nathan L’Etoile will be returning to his family’s farm in Northfield, Massachusetts. While at the Department, Nathan focused on legislation important to the agricultural community, assisted senior staff on policy matters, and collaborated on the agency’s annual report, including the just-released MDAR 2011 Annual Report now available electronically at www.mass.gov/agr/about

Four Star Farm, Inc. was started 1977 by Nathan’s parents, Bonnie and Eugene L’Etoile, in Rhode Island on 11 acres of land. In 1986, they purchased a former dairy farm in Northfield which is now their current location. Today the 300-acre farm grows and produces whole grains, herbs, flour/corn meal, and turf.  The farm employs sustainable farming practices that are environmentally responsible while keeping the farmland fully productive and economically viable. Nathan and his brother Jacob will be expanding the farm’s hops operation from ¾ acres to 10 acres over the next several years while at the same time continuing to expand their small-grain and flour operation.

The Department of Agricultural Resources thanks Nathan for his contributions to the agency and wishes him and his family the best of luck in their commitment to a vibrant agricultural future in the Commonwealth.

Back to Table of Contents


Business


MDAR Announces Open Application Period for Grant Programs

Over the next couple of months, MDAR will be accepting applications from farmers who wish to participate in Department programs in Fiscal Year 2013. Interested farm operators are encouraged to review these options on the web pages of the Department found at www.mass.gov/agr/programs.

Farm Viability Enhancement Program

This popular business planning and technical assistance program provides management advice and grants from $25,000 up to $100,000 to implement farm growth and sustainability strategies. Farm operators receive grant awards for signing a 5 or 10 year Agricultural Covenant, and also receive valuable consultations and visits from a team of consultants to discuss farm production and management, marketing, and business planning. Typical uses of funds from the Farm Viability Program include building or repairing farm structures, modernizing field equipment, purchasing delivery vehicles and tractors, and improving retail marketing structures or food processing capacity.

Applications and program information are available by clicking on this link AGR-FVEP-13-20 pdf format of Request for Response #AGR-FVEP-14-21
, or on line at the Agricultural Resources web site   www.mass.gov/agr, or you can request a copy of the application by calling the Farm Viability Program at 617-626-1723. The deadline for submitting applications is Tuesday June 26, 2012.

APR Improvement Program

The purpose of the APR Improvement Program (AIP) is to help sustain active commercial farming on land protected by the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program. AIP provides technical assistance and business planning to improve farm productivity with the goal of enhancing the significance of APR farm operations and their contribution to the state’s agricultural industry. The program assists with issues of economic viability, environmental sustainability, resource conservation, ownership control, modernization of infrastructure and other issues that may enhance the long term continued use of the agricultural resource. The AIP uses a process of providing services to participant farms including technical assistance, business planning, and access to capital.

Eligibility requirements include: an applicant must own APR land (or co apply with the owner) that they have been actively farming for at least the last three years. The current Request for Response with application is available by clicking here AGR-AIP13-4 pdf format of Request for Response #AGR-AIP-14-5
or by calling the APR Improvement Program at 413-268-8269. Responses must be received by June 26, 2012.

MEGA - Grant Program For Beginning Farmers in MA

The purpose of the Matching Enterprise Grants for Agriculture (MEGA) Program is to help with business expansion on beginning farms. MEGA will provide technical assistance and business planning help, and then provide funds for farm improvement strategies. Funding provided from this Program will be made available on a one to one matching grant basis and the maximum award shall be $10,000.

It is the objective of MEGA to assist farmers whose goal is to raise agricultural products and who aspire to develop their farms into commercially viable operations. Priority will be given to beginning farm enterprises that have operated commercially as a new or beginning farm for 1 to 5 years, have knowledge or have direct experience in agriculture, and have a potential to expand productivity or commercial significance with the infusion of additional technical support and capital.

MEGA applications and program information are available by clicking on this link , or on line at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources website www.mass.gov/agr, or you can request a copy of the application by calling 413-559-0949. The deadline for submitting applications is June 26, 2012.

Back to Table of Contents


Reminder: Environmental and Energy Grant Period Open!

Open Application Period for Energy & Environmental Grants

MDAR will be accepting applications from farmers who wish to participate in the Department’s energy and environmental programs for Fiscal Year 2013. Interested agricultural operators are encouraged to review the applications on each programs webpage. The deadline for both applications is April 30th, 2012.

Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP):

The purpose of AEEP is to support agricultural operations that are looking to install conservation practices that prevent direct impacts on water quality, ensure efficient use of water, as well as address impacts on air quality. By providing reimbursement directly to agricultural operations that implement eligible projects that prevent, reduce or eliminate environmental impacts, the program achieves its purpose and goals of minimizing environmental impacts from these operations for the benefit of the public.

AEEP is a competitive, reimbursement grant program that funds materials and labor up to $25,000 or 90% of project costs. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013.

AEEP grant applications are available at www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aeep.

Ag-Energy Grant

The purpose of the MDAR’s Ag-Energy Grant is to assist agricultural operations in an effort to improve energy efficiency and to facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies in order that they can become more sustainable and the Commonwealth can maximize the environmental and economic benefits from these technologies.
Reimbursement grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded on a competitive basis. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013.

Ag-Energy Grant applications are available at www.mass.gov/agr/programs/aegp.

Back to Table of Contents


Deadline for USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Proposals is April 17, 2012

MDAR is soliciting proposals through a competitive RFR process for approximately $400,000 in USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funds. Grants are awarded to projects that strengthen the market for Massachusetts specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers, commodity groups, individuals, agricultural organizations, colleges and universities, producers, municipalities, state agencies, and agricultural nonprofits are eligible for this grant program, provided their proposals meet all the specifications in the Department’s RFR and the USDA’s Notice of Federal Assistance. If you missed one of the educational sessions, click here for Educational Session Presentation pdf format of Spec-crop_grant-pp.pdf
. The question and answer period has ended. Submitted questions and answers compiled here pdf format of Spec-crop_grant-q-n-a.pdf
.

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program information, the RFR and all necessary documents, including proposal submission requirements and deadlines can be found at mass.gov/agr/markets/specialty_crop_block_grant_program.

Back to Table of Contents


Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Training for NEW Growers and Market Managers

Two training sessions will be held for the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) or “Coupon Program” at the following times and locations. Trainings are required for all growers and market managers new to the program this season. Coupons cannot be accepted or redeemed prior to training and signing an agreement.

If you are unable to attend any of these sessions and would like to begin accepting coupons at your farmers’ market please contact Lisa Damon at lisa.damon@stat.ma.us to make other arrangements.

Growers and market managers returning to the coupon program do not need to attend a training session.  Recertification for returning growers and managers is conducted through the mail or email.

Upcoming trainings for new growers and market managers will be held:

DateTimesLocation
Tuesday, April 174:30 pmUSDA Office, 1st Floor Conference Rm
52 Boyden Rd, Holden, MA
(left side, lower level door)
Thursday, April 194:30 pmMDAR Amherst Office, 3rd floor
101 University Drive, Amherst

RSVP required - Please contact: Lisa Damon at MDAR, Lisa.Damon@state.ma.us, 617-626-1731.

Back to Table of Contents


Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom (MAC) Updates

MAC Workshop on the Farm for Teachers - Friday, April 20
Join us for a spring workshop on the farm and try out some hands-on activities for the classroom and garden. The workshop runs from 9 am - 3 pm. The fee of $30 includes pdps, lunch and all materials. Spend the spring break at Heifer International’s Learning Center at Overlook Farm in Rutland on Friday, April 20 learning about eggs, chickens and soils. We’ll spend the morning with Donna Kilpatrick, Livestock Manager, and Liz Ellis Culinary Coordinator, learning about the history and science of chickens and eggs and cooking our own ‘egg-centric’ lunch. In the afternoon explore soils and composting with Garden Educator Liz Joseph and then tour the Learning Center’s Global Village sites, barns and farm fields and learn their mission with Education Manager Paul Bertler. Limited to 12. Visit www.aginclassroom.org

A Day of Gardening Skills Workshops for the School Garden - Saturday, April 21
Free and open to the educators, school gardeners and the public. Held at Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehoboth, MA, 9am - 4:00 pm. MAC is teaming up with Tranquil Lake Nursery in Rehoboth to offer a full day of How-To-Gardening Skills workshops and demonstrations for educators, school gardeners and the general public. Spend Saturday, April 21 brushing up on your gardening skills to get yourself ready for the gardening season ahead, whether growing plants in containers outside the classroom, in a school garden or in your own backyard. Thirteen useful workshops and demonstrations will be conducted on the half hour starting at 9 am. Workshops will cover digging garden beds; preparing and testing soils; adding amendments; composting; mulching; seeding, transplanting; watering; fertilizing; planting a tree, pruning and more. Free an open to educators, school gardeners, garden volunteers and the public. Bring your own lunch. Ten Professional Development Points are provided to teachers with accompanying school gardening or classroom activity. For more information visit the MAC website at www.aginclassroom.org or call 508-336-4426.

MAC Summer Graduate Course for Teachers
Check out Massachusetts Agriculture in the Classroom's 3-credit Graduate Course for teachers presented with Fitchburg State College. The course meets Wednesdays, June 27 and August 15 in North Grafton from 9 am to 3 pm Each participant will attend both sessions and participate in six additional workshops on the farm. For more information, visit www.aginclassroom.org/Conferences_Workshops/Summer_Graduate_Course/.

MAC is Undertaking a New Garden-Based Education Initiative and Needs Your Support to Ensure Success.
The initiative covers five projects including: a directory of school gardens and local garden resources. If you have a school garden or can provide resources for teachers who are gardening at the school then we want to hear from you!

The School Gardening Directory includes three unique resources for educators looking for support for new or on-going school garden projects. The first is a list of active school gardens across the state. Secondly, we are compiling a resource directory of nurseries, garden centers, greenhouses, farms and other businesses that sell seeds, plants, tools and other materials that teachers need to purchase for gardens at the school. The final directory will offer a list of people and organizations who provide education and technical support for school gardens.

Visit the MAC Website to fill out an on-line questionnaire to let us know about your school garden program or the materials or assistance you can provide. www.aginclassroom.org

Back to Table of Contents


The Massachusetts Flower Growers Association Offers Annual Scholarship

The Massachusetts Flower Growers Association offers a scholarship to any student who enrolls in a college level Horticultural Program. The award is $1000 per year and is renewable for up to 4 years. The program can be a 2 year or 4 year program. Attached is a letter explaining the scholarship directed to you the guidance department.

Please distribute/forward this to any student you know who has been accepted and will be enrolled next year in any college level horticultural program.

The deadline date for applications is May 15, 2012. 
Click here for letter and application form pdf format of MFGA-Scholarship-2012.pdf
. If you have any questions or need hard copy, please direct your emails to bluczai@massflowergrowers.com.

Back to Table of Contents


Upcoming Events


USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program – April 12

Sponsored by UMass Extension and the MA Dept of Agricultural Resources, Thursday, April 12, 2012, Farm Bureau Office, 249 Lakeside Drive, Marlboro, MA (Farm Bureau phone: 508-481-4766)
12:30 pm - 5:00 pm, Registration deadline: April 6, 2012

UMass Extension, the UMass Department of Nutrition and the MA Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) are pleased to present a USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program for growers and other fresh produce handlers.

At the training, you will learn more about:

  1. the costs and impact of diseases and outbreaks caused by food-borne pathogens
  2. strategies for controlling potential microbial food safety hazards before planting and throughout all phases of production - planting, production, harvesting and postharvest handling
  3. the USDA Third Party Audit process
  4. the MA Commonwealth Quality program as a possible alternative to GAP

You will also:

  1. receive a manual filled with GAP resources
  2. receive a memory loaded with templates needed to maintain records to verify USDA GAP that can be customized for your farm

At the end of the session, you will receive a certificate of participation and one pesticide credit for participating through UMass Extension.

The key presenter for the training is Dr. Richard Bonanno, Ph.D. Extension Educator with UMass Extension. The cost for this GAP training is $50.00. Send additional employees for $10.00 which includes the presentation, pesticide credit, refreshments, but not the GAP manual. Space is limited. Please make your checks payable to University of Massachusetts. Note that we cannot accept cash payments. Send the check along with the registration information given below to Doreen York, Agriculture & Landscape Program, 210 Bowditch Hall, 201 Natural Resources Rd., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003. If you have questions, please contact Doreen at 413-545-2254 or email at dyork@umext.umass.edu.

Back to Table of Contents


Massachusetts Gleaning Network Statewide Meeting

Thursday, April 26, 2012, Worcester, 11am - 1pm. The Massachusetts Gleaning Network (MGN) requests your participation at our statewide organizing meeting as we move forward to expand on MDAR’s work with partners across the Commonwealth to salvage healthy produce left un-harvested in fields.

This meeting will bring together organizations from many sectors and regions for the purpose of sharing resources, best practices, procedures and processes to support a statewide, self sustaining, gleaning network across the Commonwealth. This is MGN’s next step to bring together dozens of organizations at our meeting.

Stake holders such as food bank representatives, gleaning groups, organizations with a volunteer base, farmers and others interested in gleaning from around Massachusetts will be in attendance we would like to have you join us! Please contact Rose Arruda, Director of Outreach and Events at Rose.rruda@state.ma.us for more information.

Back to Table of Content


2012 Food Day Meeting

Tuesday, May 29, 2012. Food Day 2012 got off to a great start during the week of March 20-22, as the team from the national office of Food Day and MDAR met with nearly a hundred stake holders across the Commonwealth to brainstorm and generate several working groups to organize Food Day across Massachusetts.

There will be three follow up meetings on May 29, 2012 in Western and Central Mass and in Boston. The team plans to meet representatives from organizations who have begun the planning process of planning events/outreach and with constituents who would like to be a part of the movement to bring the discussion around access to healthy food (and actions) from the field to the table. These gatherings for sharing ideas will help make Food Day 2012 a more powerful, engaging, and effective force for change in the American food system. For more information on how you can get involved, contact Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us.

Back to Table of Content


Spring Rabies Clinics for Cats and Dogs

Prevent Rabies image

MDAR, in partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Animal Coalition, is encouraging pet owners to take advantage of low-cost rabies vaccination clinics taking place in communities across the Commonwealth.

State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets living in Massachusetts be vaccinated against rabies. Low-cost rabies vaccinations are offered to pets to protect the animals and the public at large. These clinics provide an affordable opportunity for pet owners to remain in compliance with state law.

The clinics are currently offered in different communities throughout the Commonwealth. MDAR maintains and regularly updates a convenient list of clinics on its website. The majority of clinics take place from April through June. For a complete list of participating communities, visit www.mass.gov/agr/animalhealth/rabies.

Rabies is an infectious and contagious disease that can be transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal. Transmission usually occurs through a bite or scratch. The virus is considered to be 100 percent fatal if untreated. Most exposures occur when there is contact between a pet and wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, woodchucks and bats or free roaming, unvaccinated cats. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with rabies, contact your veterinarian and local animal control officer.

For more information contact Patricia Cabral at 617-626-1786 or Patricia.Cabral@state.ma.us.

Back to Table of Content


Participate in Middlesex Conservation District's Local Working Group

The Middlesex Conservation District in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) wants input to guide agricultural and conservation funding in Middlesex County. The interactive workshops are an opportunity for organizational stakeholders, concerned citizens, agricultural producers and municipal officials to weigh in on the needs of Middlesex County. What is needed to enhance local agriculture and the preservation of open space? Share your thoughts with friend, neighbors and local leaders.

The workshops are a great way to discover Middlesex County resources, explore new approaches to solving issues and meet local people interested in agriculture and conservation. I hope that you will consider spreading the word to others that may be interested, including landowners or fellow commissioners.

When, Where, How?

Wednesday, April 11th, we'll be at Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm at the same time. A website has been set up to take comments and provide general information regarding the process. Fill out the simple survey as well to contribute to the community input process.

To RSVP and for more information contact Jesse Steadman at jesse-nathan.steadman@tufts.edu.

Back to Table of Content


Aududon Sheep Shearing Open House Seeks Vendors

Mass Audobon image

Saturday, April 14, 1 pm - 4 pm, Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Princeton, MA - 113 Goodnow Rd (west ½ mile from center of town off Route 62)

Sheep grazing led to the development of many meadows on the sanctuary, and our current team of munchers help us maintain open habitat for wildlife. Come and meet Aurora, Monarch, Taggley and the rest of the flock. Learn how sheep are sheared and how those fleeces eventually become warm hats and mittens.

Massachusetts based agricultural producers are welcome to exhibit and sell their products, no charge. Call 978-464-2712 for more information. In the past, participants have included honey and maple sugar producers, all types of wool based producers, weavers, Christmas tree growers, goat cheese producers, etc. Details here.

Back to Table of Content


Small Ruminant Conference

Saturday, April 21, 10 am - 3 pm. Sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Sheep Breeders, Shelburne Fellowship Hall, Shelburne, MA.

Workshop sessions: Feed and Nutrition, Health and Parasites, Common Diseases and Prevention: Question and Answer Session with Dr. Michaela Krafve, Got Wool or Fiber? From Freezer to Table, and Farmstead Cheese Making.

Registration: $10/individual or $20/family membership in PVSBA (includes box lunch). Lunch provided only if you register by 4/13/12. PVSBA member $10/individual enclosed $20/family enclosed. Send registrations pdf format of Small_Ruminant_Conference1.pdf
to: Kim LaBlanc, 1430 Russell Rd., Unit 17, Westfield, MA, kmlablanc@yahoo.com, Phone: 413-262-2730.

Back to Table of Content


Save the Date: Northeast Greenhouse Conference and Expo - November 7 and 8, 2012

The Northeast Greenhouse Conference (formerly the New England Greenhouse Conference) will be held on November 7 and 8 at the DCU Center in Worcester MA. Save the date for the northeast’s premier horticultural event! Don’t miss the opportunity to network with growers and other colleagues, hear the latest updates from nationally recognized speakers and visit the trade show.

Educational sessions will include 4 tracks throughout both days focused on pest and disease management, production techniques and tips, and business and marketing strategies. Pesticide recertification credits will be available for many of the educational sessions. In addition to the educational sessions, the trade show will be held both days with three dedicated hours in each day of the program. www.negreenhouse.org.

Back to Table of Content


In Every Issue


Classified Ads

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.

Back to Table of Content


Calendar

April
11Participate in Middlesex Conservation District's Local Working Group - The Middlesex Conservation District in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) wants input to guide agricultural and conservation funding in Middlesex County. The interactive workshops are an opportunity for organizational stakeholders, concerned citizens, agricultural producers and municipal officials to weigh in on the needs of Middlesex County. When, Where, How? Wednesday, April 11 at 6:30pm at Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm at the same time. A website has been set up to take comments and provide general information regarding the process. To RSVP and for more information contact Jesse Steadman at jesse-nathan.steadman@tufts.edu.
12USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Training Program - 12:30pm – 5pm, MA Farm Bureau Federation Office, 249 Lakeside Drive, Marlboro, MA (Farm Bureau office phone: 508-481-4766. Registration deadline: April 6, 2012. Sponsored by UMass Extension and the MA Dept of Agricultural Resources. Training Program for growers and other fresh produce handlers. At the end of the session, you will receive a certificate of participation and one pesticide credit. The key presenter for the training is Dr. Richard Bonanno, Ph.D. Extension Educator with UMass Extension. The cost for this GAP training is $50.00. If you have questions, please contact Doreen at 413-545-2254 or email at dyork@umext.umass.edu.
21Small Ruminant Conference - 10 am-3 pm, Shelburne Fellowship Hall, Shelburne, MA. Sponsor: Pioneer Valley Sheep Breeders. Workshops; Feed and Nutrition, Health and Parasites, Common diseases and prevention; Question and answer session with Dr. Michaela Krafve, Got Wool or Fiber? From Freezer to Table, Farmstead Cheese Making. Registration: $10/individual or $20/family membership in PVSBA (includes box lunch). Lunch provided only if you register by 4/13/12. PVSBA member $10/individual enclosed $20/family enclosed. Send registrations to: Kim LaBlanc, 1430 Russell Rd., Unit 17, Westfield, MA, kmlablanc@yahoo.com, Phone: 413-262-2730.

For a Complete Ongoing List of Events and Workshops, Click Here.

*** If you have events you would like listed to our Ag industry calendar, or Consumer events, email Rick LeBlanc at Richard.LeBlanc@state.ma.us.

Back to Table of Content


About the Farm & Market Report

Published bi-monthly by:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard K. Sullivan, Secretary
Department of Agricultural Resources, Gregory C. Watson, 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 June / July. Please send news, calendar and/or classified information by May 31 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.

Back to Table of Content