Join us on January 19th at 7 PM for a webinar on Urban Agriculture Opportunities in Connecticut. Dean Indrajeet Chaubey from the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, and Extension educators Jacqueline Kowalski and Jiff Martin are presenting along with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, USDA, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
Join us for a Farm Business Planning Webinar on November 29th at 12 PM. We’ll cover the components of a business plan and an online tool you can use. Register at https://s.uconn.edu/farmbusinessplanning
USDA Ready to Help Connecticut Farmers and Ranchers Recover from Extreme Weather
TOLLAND, Connecticut, November 15, 2021 — Recent extreme weather conditions have impacted farmers in Connecticut. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover after natural disasters, including flooding and wind events.
FSA offers a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers through times of adversity. Many disaster programs have a 30-day window to report losses, so once producers are able to evaluate their losses, it is important to contact the local FSA office to report all damages and losses and learn more about how we can assist.
To participate in LIP, producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent. In addition, livestock producers should bring supporting evidence, including documentation of the number and kind of livestock that died, photographs or video records to document the loss, purchase records, veterinarian records, production records, and other similar documents. Owners who sold injured livestock for a reduced price because the livestock was injured due to an adverse weather event, must provide verifiable evidence of the reduced sale of the livestock.
To participate in ELAP, producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent. Producers should also maintain records and receipts documenting that livestock were removed from the grazing pasture due to adverse weather, costs of transporting livestock feed to eligible livestock, receipts for equipment rental fees for hay lifts, and feed purchase receipts.
The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.
Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2021 crops and file a notice of loss and application for payment on qualifying crops
Please contact your local FSA office for more information about our disaster assistance programs or resources are available online at farmers.gov, where we offer a Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool and a disaster-at-a-glance brochure.
Meet Bill Davenport, our UConn 4-H Litchfield County Educator. “After growing up as an active UConn 4-H member, my ultimate career goal was to become a UConn 4-H Educator so I could help provide 4-H youth with the life-changing experiences, skills and friendships I received from my own 4-H experience. I am thrilled to finally reach my goal of being the Litchfield County UConn 4-H Educator!”
Governor Ned Lamont announced late yesterday that farmers statewide will be able to apply for emergency disaster loans due to production loss based upon severe weather caused by Tropical Storm Elsa. Farmers have eight (8) months from yesterday’s date to apply for federal assistance.
Please contact your local FSA office to discuss emergency assistance that may be available to each agricultural producer.
We will continue to monitor potential disaster losses resulting from this evening’s remnants of Tropical Storm Ida. Should this storm prove worthy of the estimated rainfall, please report further crop losses arising from this evening’s storm to your local FSA office as soon as possible.
UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.
Connecting Farmers and Consumers in the Northeast Corner
Local food and agriculture took a spotlight in 2020 as residents avoided grocery stores and sought out contactless and close to home food options during the unfolding of COVID-19. Coincidentally, just months earlier, UConn Extension launched a new federally funded project to increase direct-to-consumer sales for farm businesses in Northeast Connecticut.
Working with farms across 23 towns in the region (see map), the project aims to increase direct-to-consumer farm sales by 15%, increase customers by 20%, and expand market opportunities for at least 70 producers over the course of three years. A 12-member Farmer Advisory Board is guiding project activities, which include new marketing tools, trainings, and branding.
The project tracks farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) to see if there is an increase in customers and sales over time. “Everyone who lives in Northeastern Connecticut knows it is a beautiful place to live, but many miss out on supporting local farm businesses because they lack information about what farms offer and where to purchase their products,” explained Jiff Martin, Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems.
As part of this work, UConn’s team is developing a brand to capture the unique identity that agriculture has in the region. With over 100 farms in the 23 towns, there are a wide variety of products consumers can purchase, and the region takes great pride in its agricultural landscapes. In June 2020, UConn Extension put together a guide that showcases this strong agricultural identity, while helping consumers see the variety of what farms offer and how accessible it is for them to purchase locally. This guide has seen a fall update in September and a winter iteration in December.
Printed versions of the summer guide were quickly snatched up by the community from farmers markets, local business, and community centers. The online magazine version has seen plenty of traffic as people looked to this resource on the go, or to plan out their purchasing of weekly groceries. A postcard mailing to thousands of households in the region and strategic social media marketing around #heartctgrown helped broadcast messaging about local farm offerings in the region.
In addition to consumer education and outreach, three marketing training sessions were held in late fall to help farmers acquire new skills to reach more customers and expand their product reach. The topics included online marketing, using point of sale to increase your market, and relational marketing for farm stands and farmers markets.
Looking ahead to programming for 2021 and 2022, plans are in the works to start promotions of the area’s CSAs, including a searchable online map and a postcard mailing to targeted households. The project will continue to offer marketing trainings for farm businesses, publish shopping guides, and distribute marketing materials. When the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided and public events are safe, the project will employ local food ambassadors to travel the region educating residents about the reasons to buy local food and where to find it.
Supporting Farmers, Businesses, Students and Communities
With positive vision and great ambition, Indu Upadhyaya joined UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources in June 2019 as an Assistant Extension Food Safety Educator. Indu obtained her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India.
After working as a practicing veterinarian in India for a year, she joined UConn to pursue her PhD from the Department of Animal Science focusing on poultry microbiology and safety.
After completing her PhD, Indu moved to the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Fayetteville, Arkansas as a postdoctoral associate, working in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.
Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Indu worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year, where she led a collaborative research program in poultry and fresh produce safety. She also taught two upper-level undergraduate courses in poultry science and facilitated several outreach activities and recruitment drives in Tennessee.
“As I approach completion of two years in my current role, I feel respected and valued in my department and in the college community.” Indu says. “The majority of my work so far has focused on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), a part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2016. I am also leading outreach efforts in several USDA, NE-SARE and CPS grants and look forward to contributing to them.”
Indu has conducted other trainings including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. These provide the framework for monitoring the total food system, from harvesting to consumption, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Indu is working alongside extension educators in the Northeast to conduct successful trainings for producers and growers. Working closely with Diane Hirsch, an Emeritus Extension Educator for Food Safety, has made for a smooth transition. With 2020 throwing curveballs for many of us, it did not dampen UConn Extension training programs including Food Safety.
“We have successfully completed multiple farmer trainings using remote learning,” Indu says. “This includes the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training (three courses with 52 trainees) and a, three-day, Meat and Poultry HACCP training (17 participants). I have also continued farm visits during the pandemic following CDC guidelines. Various online platforms have helped me to serve the Connecticut community by remote consultation on various food safety and handling practices.”
Indu has been awarded a Hatch-Multistate Hatch grant as lead PI for mitigating the food safety risks associated with fresh produce production and is a co-PI on several USDA-NIFA, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grants.
However, the biggest highlight for her in collaboration with UConn CAHNR colleagues, is a $10 million federal grant to improve sustainable poultry production globally. The USDA-NIFA funded project is developing an integrated and sustainable program for enhancing the viability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production in the poultry industry. The project launched in September of 2020 and focuses on a systems approach integrating bird health, human health, and environmental remediations to improve the sustainability of antibiotic restricted poultry production.
As a critical element in this grant, Indu is focusing on poultry outreach for both consumers and stakeholders to educate them on interventions and sustainable methods of production. She will conduct workshops, train-the-trainer programs and on-farm demonstrations to disseminate the results of the research objectives, so the stakeholders can implement more sustainable production practices.
“While our communities face ever evolving and serious challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, associated financial difficulties and health risks, I will continue to support farmers, small business owners, students and other members of the community through research, trainings and consultation in the state, region and nationally.”
Connecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transformative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Programming moved to virtual environments through online certificate programs, virtual field days, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.
One of every nine Connecticut residents struggled with food insecurity before COVID-19. For many individuals and families, challenges surrounding food insecurity increased when the pandemic arrived and continued throughout 2020. The stress associated with food insecurity challenges one of the most basic human needs and deepens income and health disparities.
UConn Extension programs addressed the food insecurity challenges that our community members are facing due to COVID-19. Educators coordinated dairy foods donations to help address food insecurity challenges—facilitating the donation of over 160,000 pounds of dairy products statewide.
Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities. We serve thousands of people every year. Our work is in every town and city of the state and the broader impacts make Connecticut a better place to live for all of us.
The human, environmental, and agricultural issues that we face change. The needs of our residents’ change. Our commitment to providing life transformative education remains steadfast.
UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.