News from the fields, farms and beyond…

HEALS Act could follow the CARES Act if a bill introduced by US Senate Republicans is approved.

Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act is a $1 trillion package, $23.5 billion of which would go to agriculture. According to the Farm Bureau, language in the proposed HEALS Act would provide independent commodity supports and contracts for poultry growers and those in ag processing, which could include biofuels. It would also prepare for the next pandemic:

“prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus by providing support for agricultural producers, growers, and processors impacted by coronavirus, including producers, growers, and processors of specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock and poultry, including livestock and poultry depopulated due to insufficient processing access and growers who produce livestock or poultry under a contract for another entity.”

This means in the future, livestock and dairy producers would not have to dump product intended for retail and wholesale markets shut down by some sort of crisis.

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The Winter CSA enrollment is underway at Priapi Gardens in Cecilton. Through the CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, members buy shares of what the farm grows. In this case, Priapi and its allied regional producers offer organic vegetables, fruits and other food stuffs.

There are a limited number of shares left for purchase. Thanks to its large greenhouses Priapi Gardens can grow all year long.

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Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary announced Thursday that a $10 million contract has been signed to funnel excess dairy products and produce grown in the state to Feeding Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) aims to reduce waste in all 67 counties including neighboring Chester and Lancaster counties.

“If there’s anything worse than the waste of fresh, local food and the labor of love from Pennsylvania farmers, it’s the hunger that more than two million Pennsylvanians are facing every day as we fight COVID-19,” said AG Secretary Russell Redding during a visit to Sauder’s Eggs in Lancaster. “This is $10 million in relief for Pennsylvania farmers who have lost markets but have not swayed in their commitment to nourishing our commonwealth. It’s $10 million in fresh, local food to go on the plates of families who were unsure of where their next meal would come from.”

That $10 billion will be split with half going to fruit and vegetable producers and the other half to dairy operations.

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The next Food Safety Fridays seminar is Aug. 21 and will deal with separating your food supply from wildlife. This virtual webinar will discuss creating buffer zones and handling contaminated produce.

Sarah Everhart with University of Maryland Extension will make the presentation starting at noon. The webinar is free but you must register in advance at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-safety-fridays-a-how-to-webinar-series-registration-103266799778

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Speaking of webinars, the next University of Maryland Women in Agriculture series will be on emotional well-being.

The free meeting, available to everyone, starts at noon and is part of a continuing series offered the 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month.

The Aug. 26 webinar will focus on the warning signs and also the resources available. Topics will include financial stress, substance abuse, depression and suicide.

To register or to see a list of future webinars go to https://extension.umd.edu/womeninag/webinars

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Farmers in West Virginia are finding success by selling more of their produce wholesale to local institutions. On Aug. 20 some of these farmers will lead a webinar starting at 3 p.m. to help you find your market close to home. The session is free but Future Harvest CASA is suggesting a donation of at least $10 to help defray costs.

Speakers will include Sherrie Taylor at Thankful Valley Farms, Dana Lester at McDowell Youth Producers Association, Derek Kilmer from Kilmer’s Farm Market and representatives from Sprouting Farms and Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective.

Find out more, or register at futureharvestcasa.org.

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With summer drawing to a close Cecil County farmers are looking into fall cover crops and nutrient application. Maryland requires a cover crop for those fields that have had nutrient/manure treatment.

Maryland Department of Agriculture defines fall as the period between Sept. 10 and Dec. 15. The deadline to get cover crops in the ground is Nov. 15.

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If you are curious about the hemp industry and would like to know more about the current regulations, proposed changes or where to start your own crop the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources has a webpage devoted to those topics.

While clearly stating it is not a substitute for legal advice, the Maryland Risk Management Education Blog delves into what defines a hemp growing operation, what can and cannot be grown, and what changes are coming in November. The biggest change is that farmers no longer have to be connected to a research program to proceed.

For more information go to agrisk.umd.edu

If you have a farm related event, idea or story you’d like to share in AgriCulture contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007

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