2015 S P R I N G ISSUE Mainely Agriculture || Equi Ag & Livestock || Aqua Agriculture 3

The U.S. Agricultural Census estimates more than 6,400 Northeast farms include
some poultry production, and a 2009 survey of agricultural service providers in New
England revealed 36 of 41-48 percent saw a growing interest in poultry enterprises in
their areas. But when asked, the same providers said, overwhelmingly that they didn’t
have the knowledge, or the confidence, to address poultry-related questions, and that
they were not serving poultry producers effectively.
Project leader Richard Brzozowski, from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Cumberland County, responded to this knowledge gap by
applying for SARE funds to offer training in topics
like egg production, bird anatomy, nutrition, egg and
meat production cycles, pest management, marketing, enterprise planning, and economics.

example, eleven participants put together fact sheets or similar guidance publications, six
created model spreadsheets for decision making and tracking, three created record
keeping templates, and six wrote articles for the Ag Media. Ten participants assembled
slide shows, five got involved in research, six offered workshops and six worked with
producer groups.
These durable resources,
along with the new network of poultry-proficient
service providers will have
a lasting influence on the
region’s growing small scale poultry industry.
And some of these newlytrained providers are assuming regional leadership roles in poultry
science education - one
participant was appointed
as the statewide poultry
specialist by his extension
administration and another
landed a $20,000 Working
Lands Grant to develop
enterprise budgets and
business feasibility templates for three laying-hen
business models. Yet another participant completed a two-year market
research project addressing poultry demand in his

The target was to train 20 service providers in six
New England states in applied poultry science so
that they could deliver education and assistance to at
least 200 small-scale poultry producers whose enterprises, in the aggregate, were worth $550,000 annually. By the end of the project, 19 farm educators
worked with 1,117 producers whose aggregate value
was then estimated as more than $1M. This work
Dr Richard Brzozowski
included one-on-one technical assistance, farm visits, workshops, webinars, day-long
schools, and surveys. As a result, farm service providers could report that 146 farmers
started up a new poultry enterprise. At the core of the project’s success was a cohort
of agricultural service providers equipped to serve farmers wanting to start, adapt, or
expand a poultry enterprise. The project team, which included the New England
region’s only remaining extension poultry specialist, Dr Michael Darre, provided
comprehensive training to farm advisors, extension educators, USDA, state agencies
and nonprofits. An advisory board is comprised of 6 poultry producers from around
New England and also had a positive impact on the success of the project.
The education included annual in-depth workshops, tours of facilities, and a library
of reference materials. Selected participants also attended the International Poultry
Expo in Atlanta in 2010, 2011 and 2012. This training included a range of egg and
meat production topics, and also encompassed management topics like food safety,
federal and state regulations, business planning, marketing and economics.

This four-year project
was recently funded for a
phase-two effort to confirm and expand on the

Leaders were then encouraged to become lay teachers, honing their skills in
specialized areas sharing this knowledge with each other and with farmers. For

USDA Specialty Crop Grants
Grow Markets for Producers

Ag Development Grants Announced

At this year’s Ag Trade Show
the following farmers were awarded a porCommissioner Walter Whitcomb has announced Maine is part- tion of $422,855 by Agriculture Commisnering with USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest $602,678.57 sioner Walter Whitcomb:
to support Maine Specialty Crop Producers. Ten initiatives to increase the
– Food Safety
Education for Maine Crop Distribution Syscompetitiveness of specialty crops enhancing and strengthening markets for

potatoes, wild blueberries, maple syrup, other fruits and vegetables; investigatEstablishing
Capaing the health of honey bees; increasing nutrition knowledge and consumption
bility inside the State of Maine, with associated
of specialty crops by Maine children and adults; and furthering the developdemonstration of growing practices,
ment of a hops industry to bolster Maine’s craft beer industry.
– Maine Malt House,
"These investments will benefit Maine farmers and consumers by funding
- Marresearch and marketing that is critical to the growth of Maine specialty crops,”
ket Expansion of a National Award Winning
said Whitcomb. “Selected projects will help growers make food safety enArtisan Creamery,
hancements, solve research needs for better pest management, make better

Downeast Salmon Federation Mobile Smokeinformed decisions to increase profitability and sustainability and encourage

the next generation to enter into commercial agriculture enterprises. The
DistriSpecialty Crop Block Grant Program supports projects that: Support Food
bution of Local Farm Produce to Food Insecure
Safety Audit Preparation; Increase Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption of
Mainers, Maine Agricultural in the Classby Maine Children and Adults; Enhance Consumer and Producer Awareness
room (Augusta) – Increasing Maine Agriculof Maine Maple Syrup; Improve Maine Potato Yields through Increased
tural Markets & Nutritional Awareness of
Rotation Lengths and Improved Rotation Crop Profitability; Support Maine
Maine Crops through Elementary Education,
Potato Integrated Pest Management; Enhance the Competitiveness through
Peaked Mountain Farm (Holden) – CommerRegional Collaboration; Investigate Honeybee Exposure to Pesticides in Maine
cial Propagation of Common Milkweed and
Increase the
(the question about Neonicotinoids);
Food Safety Margin of Wild Blueberries through
Improved Intervention Measures; Improve Integrated
Pest Management Practices for Maine Wild Blueberry Growers; and Build a Hops Ag in Maine.
Since 2006, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has collected close to $3 million dollars for the
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and
Forestry to support specialty crop producers selling
local and regional markets. For more Information:
Or call Jessica Nixon at 207-287-3494.

Butterfly Weed, Tide Mill Organics (Edmunds Township) – Developing Retail Markets for Maine Organic
Poultry, Univ of Maine (Monmouth) – Increasing Local
Plum Production for Farm Market Diversification, Wild
Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono) – 2015 Wild
Blueberry Major Metro Enhancement Program Agricultural Development Grant Program.
These awards will accelerate new market development,
adopt improved technology and promotion of agricultural
products produced in Maine. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may allocate grant funds
among projects involving market research, market promotion, or a combination of those activities for the purpose of
expanding existing markets and developing new markets for
agricultural products produced in Maine; or for testing and
demonstrating new technologies related to the production,
storage or processing of State agricultural products.
It is anticipated that other Agricultural Development Fund
Requests For Proposals will be released in the future.

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