MOFGA’s Aroostook County Tour

Bonnie was one of 35 people who had a wonderful opportunity to learn more about food and agriculture in Aroostook County on MOFGA’s 3-day tour in mid-June. Participants represented nonprofits, foundations, investors and individuals who are active supporters of building healthy food businesses and communities in Maine.

The full itinerary included visits at Nature’s Circle Farm, focused on organic potatoes and root crops; two organic dairy farms, one run by Vaughn Chase & family and one by Toby Esch in an Amish community; Aroostook Hops, an organic hops operation; Irving Farms, a conventional potato farm; Marquis Farms, an organic potato business; and Haymart wood pellets & farm products.

We interspersed site visits with meals, lively conversations and presentations about MOFGA, MFT, Slow Money Maine, the Maine Harvest Credit Project, Organic Valley dairy projects, UMO field work, Northern Maine Community College programs and more.

Stellar weather, an engaged, diverse group of participants, and a well-organized trip all contributed to a full and inspiring visit. Many of us were grateful for collaborations to date and look forward to new possibilities in our food system endeavors.

Thanks to Sam Vail, John Chartier and Chris Hamilton from MOFGA for their major planning roles!

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Alternative Food Production Needs Fresh Bread

This New Food Economy article details needs for funding local food businesses and the shift in mind sets required to make it happen. Sarah Smith of Grassland Farms, Iroquois Valley Farms and the Maine Harvest Credit Project are all featured in the story. Here’s a pertinent quote from author Amy Halloran: “Funding is about someone understanding someone else’s story deeply, and seeing the proposed risks as reasonable.” Here’s the link to the full article:

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News from Maine Grain Alliance

ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY PLEDGES TO BUY ONE MILLION POUNDS OF MAINE-GROWN GRAIN, PER YEAR, BY 2021. Click here to read the full article from Maine Grain Alliance

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CEI Women’s Business Center upcoming Workshops!

THURSDAY, JUNE 15 | 9-10:30am

TUESDAY, JUNE 27 | 9-10:30am

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 | 7:30-8:45am

FRIDAY, JUNE 23 | 7:30-8:45am

Details and registration information on links above

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Maine Startup and Create Week

2 FOR 1 Week-long Tickets on Sale Now!

Looking to kick off your summer with meaningful connections and game-changing insights, all in one amazing week? Please join us at Maine Startup and Create Week, from June 19-23!

We’re thrilled to be a community partner for MSCW 2017, helping entrepreneurs start stronger, scale smarter and solve better!

The week will feature over 50+ events and keynotes, including skill-building workshops, evening networking and REAL Day: an entire day dedicated to hands-on experiential learning. And, did we mention that MSCW is committed to being a 100% gender balanced conference? You won’t want to miss it!

Please enjoy a 20% discount on day passes and week passes, using the code COMP20.

2 FOR 1 week-long passes are currently available, so bring a friend, split the cost and join us in the celebration of our vibrant startup ecosystem!
Check out our site and get more info here.

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Farm Business Planning Course

Starting this November, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry – Maine Farms for the Future Program and Jed Beach of FarmSmart Business Services will offer NxLevel™ Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, a business planning course tailored for Maine farmers.

See details here.

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Portland Food Launch June 22nd

Is your Maine food business a
Startup, Scale-up or Accelerate?

If you’re a Maine food entrepreneur with an idea and passion, find out how to turn it into a real business.  details here.

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Business Insider: The Demand for ‘Local’ Food is Growing — Here’s Why Investors Should Pay Attention

Read full article here


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Congresswoman Pingree leads bipartisan bill to support continued growth in organic agriculture industry

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) will introduce the Organic Agriculture Research Act to support the continued growth of the nation’s booming organic agriculture industry.

The legislation increases funding for USDA’s flagship organic research program, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), from $20 million to $50 million annually. The program funds applied research projects across the country that help organic farmers improve their operations and meet the growing consumer demand for organic food.

“Over the last 10 years, sales of organic food in the United State have doubled, which has benefited rural economies and raised the income of many farmers.  There’s still a lot of room for growth—it’s just a question of getting farmers what they need to keep up with consumer demand,” said Congresswoman Pingree.  “Organic Research and Extension Initiative funding has been critical in solving problems and developing ways for farmers to increase productivity, prevent loss, and streamline their operations.  But insufficient funding has led to many unmet research needs and missed opportunities.  The Organic Agriculture Research Act would increase funding to reflect the industry’s growth in the market and maintain its momentum.”

“Our country’s organic industry is a dynamic and growing market, but more must be done to ensure that producers are equipped with the most effective tools available. My district on the central coast of California is the fifth largest organics producing district in the country, home to over 400 organic producers. To remain competitive, these operations depend on innovations in research, particularly when it comes to improvements in soil health and pest management,” said Congressman Panetta. “The Organic Agriculture Research Act will provide economic opportunity for our producers and increase accessibility to consumers through science-based advancements.”

This bill is supported by: Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Organic Trade Association, National Farmers Union, Union of Concerned Scientists, Organic Valley, Stonyfield, Organic Farming Research Foundation, National Organic Coalition, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Organic Seed Alliance, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, Oregon Tilth, and Florida Organic Growers.

“A strong commitment to organic research benefits our farmers, our health, the environment and local economies,” said Ted Quaday, Executive Director, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. “The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association applauds Congresswoman Pingree for leading the effort to answer this crucial agricultural need.”

Statements of support from all these groups can be read here. And a fact sheet on the legislation is available here.

Organic industry booming—a boon for farmers
U.S. organic product sales currently exceed $43 billion per year, up from less than $19 billion in 2007 and $3.5 billion in 1997. Almost 13 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. is now organic.

Organic farms are 35 percent more profitable than the average farm.  Premiums paid to organic farmers can range from 29 to 32 percent above non-organic prices. The difference in on-farm net income in many cases is what makes staying on the farm possible.

Production can’t keep up with demand—research gaps are a reason why
Unfortunately, domestic production is not keeping up with consumer demand for organic products—a missed opportunity for American farmers. One problem is that the dramatic increase in consumer demand has not been met with an increase in public investment in organic research. Funding for OREI has remained around the same level since 2010.

In 2016, 18 projects totaling $17,640,143 were funded through OREI. The same year, 43 additional projects totaling $40,282,461 were recommended for funding but could not be funded for lack of resources.

In Maine, the program has funded approximately $3.5 million in research at the University of Maine since 2005.

Maine research projects have included:
• Innovative sowing, cultivation, and rotation strategies to address weed, fertility, and disease challenges in organic food and feed grains
• Enhancing farmers’ capacity to produce high quality organic bread wheat; and
• Optimizing organic crop production by enhancing soil and plant health to suppress plant diseases and pests

Additional funding would address organic research gaps. The 2016 National Organic Research Agenda identified three topics where organic farmers’ research needs are still unmet: soil health, weed control, and fertility methods. Organic and non-organic farmers alike benefit from this research. For example, cover cropping is standard practice on organic farms but has been widely adopted by non-organic farms as well.

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Dirigo Food Safety — Introduction to HACCP class

Dirigo Food Safety will be offering an in-person introduction to HACCP class June 5-6, 2017.
Hosted at Lucy’s Granola in East Blue Hill, Maine, and taught by Dr. Michele Pfannenstiel, this course we will cover the principles of HACCP, how to write HACCP plans for your business, and how to tell your food safety story in language that your employees and regulators understand. Course participants will receive IHA HACCP certification upon successful completion of this 2-day course.

To learn more and register, visit

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