May 2021
Young Farmers & Ranchers Happenings
If anyone is interested in hosting a virtual tour of their farm or joining the YF&R committee, please email Heather at 
Vaccine Update For Food, Ag Workers
Essential Workers
“All staff involved in the production, processing, storage, transport, wholesale and retail sale, preparation, and service of food and consumer goods, including farm and other agricultural workers, including farm stand and nurseries” became eligible for vaccines 3/22/2021. Also included are “Food pantry workers or volunteers”.

A Message From MFBF’s YF&R Chair Heather Bonanno-Baker
Hello everyone!

This year has already proven to be as busy in our garden center as last year, I hope you are all seeing the same with your businesses! On top of the already busy season, and being 9 months pregnant, I have had lots of talk with the other New England state Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) chairs. We are moving forward with a t-shirt design that will say #farmersfeedingnewengland. It is in the design stages as we speak, and we hope to have it ready for sale this summer.

June is National Dairy Month. The YF&R committee will be hosting an ice cream social at local ice cream stands. We have not worked out all the kinks yet but are going to do it as a fundraiser to raise money for our committee. The YF&R will also be available to volunteer for the weekend and help in any way we can. If you are interested in learning more and possibly hosting us, please email me and I will keep you updated as more details come about. 

As the Commonwealth allows for more people to meet in person, I hope to have a social sometime this summer. Be on the look-out for more information via our monthly emails or in News and Views, if you would be interested in attending. It has been a long time since we were able to see each other’s faces and it’s a great way to meet new farmers!

As always, if you have anyone you know who might be interested in joining the YF&R, please have them reach out to me or direct message our social media pages and I will be happy to tell them what we are all about!

Heather Bonanno-Baker
Attend MFBF's Webinars In May!
Webinar 1: 
Woodlot Management the topic of MFBF's May 11 webinar

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation is sponsoring a webinar on May 11 at 7:30 p.m. covering woodlot management. Woodlot owners can find it difficult to picture how the woods they are so familiar with will benefit from management that can make such a dramatic change to its appearance. During this webinar, Dicken Crane will discuss the jobs of consulting foresters, state service foresters, cutting plans, chapter lands and management plans. He also will cover the debate over carbon, climate change and forestland carbon and its new roll for woodlot owners. There will be lots of time for Q&A.

This webinar is $10 for members of MFBF and $25 for non-members. It will be recorded and shared with paying participants following the meeting.

To register, please visit:

Webinar 2: 
Farm Financing And Access To Credit set to be upcoming topic of MFBF's May 19 webinar

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation with Farm Credit East is sponsoring a webinar on May 19 at 7:30 p.m. covering farm financing and access to credit. Chris Laughton, Director of Knowledge Exchange at Farm Credit East will cover farm financing for both new and established farms, including various sources of capital, credit scores, how loan decisions are made, how to apply for a loan or approach a lender, and will give an overview of FarmStart, an innovative program from Farm Credit East to invest in new and beginning farms in Massachusetts.

There is no cost to attend this webinar, however, we ask that you pre-register. 

Webinars 3-5: 
Rebuilding Massachusetts Meat Processing Infrastructure – What You Can Do To Help

Despite a strong demand for local meet, there is an acute shortage of slaughter and processing facilities in and around Massachusetts. This has been the case for some time and has long limited the availability of local meet to consumers and the ability of farmers to take advantage of the market demand. The need for more local meat processing capacity was also highlighted recently when we saw meat shortages due to closures of large meat processing facilities in the Midwest due to COVID.

Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF), other farming organizations and key legislators have all made rebuilding our meat processing capacity a priority and are working on several fronts to fix the situation. YOU CAN HELP!  

Attend one of the following webinars and learn about:
  • MFBF’s Farmer Survey of slaughter and processing needs in the Commonwealth. Funded through the Commonwealth’s Food Security Infrastructure Grant, the results of this survey are intended to provide detailed insights as to the needs of farmers in Massachusetts regarding slaughter and processing.
  • Several bills have been filed on Beacon hill to help facilitate rebuilding our local and regional meat infrastructure. Learn:
  • What they bills are and what they would do, and
  • How you can participate effectively in the legislative process and help get them passed!

This webinar will be held multiple times, include:
  • Wednesday, May 12 at 12:00 noon 
  • Tuesday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. 

There is no cost to attend any of these webinars, however, we ask that you pre-register. 

New England, New York Commercial Livestock Producers Input Needed!
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) is conducting a survey to assess the slaughter and meat processing needs of livestock producers. Commercial red meat and poultry producers in Massachusetts and adjoining states are encouraged to share their thoughts at: The survey is relatively long and it is recommended that it be completed on a laptop or desktop computer.
“The agricultural community in Massachusetts has long suffered a shortage of meat processing facilities. We only have two red meat facilities in the Commonwealth and no poultry facilities. This limited capacity was highlighted during COVID, when out-of-state processing facilities were forced to shut down and we experienced meat shortages. Building new meat processing facilities will help bolster the agricultural community, and help to make the state more self-sufficient,” said MFBF President Mark Amato. “When completed, we will make the results of the survey available to the public. The hope is that anyone contemplating a new slaughter or processing facility will use the survey results to help meet the needs of local farmers.”
Results of the survey will be announced around June 30. Any producer wishing to receive a PDF summary of the results should include their email during the survey.
This survey was made possible through funding from a Massachusetts Food Security Infrastructure Grant.
Hemp, Marijuana Production On APR, Farm Viability Protected Lands
In an effort to support the Massachusetts agricultural community, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) held statewide listening sessions in early 2020 seeking input on ways to improve its Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program and Farm Viability Enhancement Program (FVEP). MDAR has reviewed its policies related to hemp and marijuana production on these protected lands in relation to the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts and the cultivation of hemp in the United States.
Please visit: for MDAR’s updated guidance on hemp and marijuana on APR and FVEP protected lands.
Farm Bureau Launches Farm State of Mind Resource Directory to Support Mental Health Month
In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) launched a comprehensive, easy-to-use online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges. 

The directory, which is on the Farm State of Mind website at, features listings for crisis hotlines and support lines, counseling services, training opportunities, podcasts, videos, published articles and other resources in every U.S. state and Puerto Rico. Listings for crisis support, counseling and behavioral health resources that are available nationwide are also included.

“For far too long, farmers and ranchers have been trying to cope with increasing levels of stress on their own,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Our Farm State of Mind campaign is encouraging conversations about stress and mental health in farming and ranching communities. It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go it alone.

“This new online directory of stress and mental health resources in every state gives farmers, ranchers and rural communities a user-friendly, one-stop shop to find services in their area that can help them manage farm stress and find help for mental health concerns. Whether you’re looking for information about how to recognize and manage stress, trying to find counseling services in your area or are in need of crisis support, you can find help here.”

National research polls conducted and published by AFBF in 2019 and 2021 showed that a number of factors including financial issues and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting farmers’ mental health, highlighting the need to identify local resources that can help farmers and ranchers cope with chronic stress and mental health concerns.

The Farm State of Mind directory lists resources specifically geared toward farmers, ranchers and rural communities in states where these specific services are available, with additional listings for county and statewide mental health and other support services in every state. The listings can be filtered by state and type of resource, including hotlines, counseling services and published information.

AFBF partnered with the University of Georgia School of Social Work to research available resources across the U.S. and Puerto Rico and compile comprehensive information included in the directory.

Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to share the directory with their family, friends and community networks to ensure widespread awareness of the availability of these important resources.
“Beef Month” Began May 1!
The local beef supply chain has grown in importance as consumers turned to their resident farmers for groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. With May being National Beef Month, the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation would like to remind consumers to support their local beef producers. 

“Farmers in Massachusetts made a quick pivot last year to ensure the safety and health of both their customers and employees,” said MFBF President Mark Amato. “There were many changes at local farm stands, such as social distancing, disinfecting, and more. These changes hopefully bolstered consumers’ confidence in the local supply chain and as we head into the new normal and farmers continue to make changes to their operations, we hope to see consumers continue to be supportive of local farm businesses.” 

It is recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to consume ‘a variety of protein foods,’ which includes lean meats and poultry (such as lean beef). Lean beef is also a great source of 10 essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, choline, iron and riboflavin. 

To find local beef producers near you, please visit:
2022 Farm Bureau® Ag Innovation Challenge Application Open
The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services, FMC Corporation and John Deere.

Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the Challenge continues to identify the next ag entrepreneurs to watch and supports innovation essential to Farm Bureau member businesses and communities. 

For this eighth year of the competition, Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing either traditional or new/emerging challenges. The 2021 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, Riley Clubb with Harvust, addressed traditional challenges by developing a software platform that helps farmers successfully hire, train and communicate with employees. The competition is also open to entrepreneurs tackling new challenges that surfaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Farm Bureau members across the country continue to grapple with a number of challenges associated with the pandemic,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Now, more than ever, we need creative solutions from entrepreneurs to help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities thrive.”

For example, 2021 Ag Innovation semi-finalist Butter Meat Co. is a beef supply chain startup based in Western New York that is working to improve the value proposition of retired dairy cows as beef for farmers and consumers. Owners of the business are building a dairy beef brand that increases the farm gate value and offers customers flavorful beef produced eco-consciously. Another Ag Innovation semi-finalist, AgriHoodBaltimore, launched the Urban Farmer Training Resource Institute with a focus on developing the next generation of urban farmers. 

Farm Bureau and Farm Credit will select 10 startup companies to compete as semi-finalists at the AFBF Convention in January 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 10 semi-finalist teams will be announced on ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Oct. 5 and awarded $10,000 each. These 10 teams will compete to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 each and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The final four teams will compete to win:

  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Winner, for a total of $50,000 
  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-up, for a total of $20,000 
  • People’s Choice Team selected by public vote, for an additional $5,000 (all 10 semi-finalist teams compete for this honor) 

The top 10 semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management faculty prior to competing at AFBF’s Convention. In addition, the top 10 semi-finalist teams will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and venture capital representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

Applications must be received by Aug. 20. Learn more:
New England Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees
Know a farmer or forestland owner who goes above and beyond in their care and management of natural resources? Nominate them for the 2021 New England Leopold Conservation Award®.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 22 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In New England the $10,000 award is presented with, New England Forestry Foundation and Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands & Communities.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on private, working land. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Landowners may also nominate themselves. The application can be found at

The application deadline date is July 15, 2021. Applications can be emailed to If mailed, applications must be postmarked by July 15, and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award
c/o New England Forestry Foundation
P.O. Box 1346
Littleton, MA 01460

Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and forestry conservation leaders.

“As a national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

The New England Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, New England Forestry Foundation; Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands & Communities; Sand County Foundation, David and Ann Ingram, Farm Credit East, Yale School of the Environment and Whole Foods Market.

The first recipient of the award was Bill Hull of Hull Forest Products in Pomfret Center, Connecticut. Linda Rinta and the Rinta Family Farm of West Wareham, Massachusetts received the award in 2020.

Farm Bureau University
What is Farm Bureau University?
“Online Learning for Farm Bureau”

Learning is no longer confined to four walls and formalized training. Farm Bureau University allows Farm Bureau members to learn through interactive experiences online when and where they want. Farm Bureau members can log onto FB University from a desktop computer in their office or on an iPad in the field.

Currently available to Farm Bureau members:
  • Board Essentials – Online training for county board members to develop skills and acquire knowledge as a Farm Bureau leader.
  • FB Builder – An evaluation tool for your county Farm Bureau to assess on eight building blocks of organizational health.
  • Pillars of Agricultural Literacy – A tool to guide you, or a group, through the Pillars of Agricultural Literacy in order to create a purposeful plan to educate consumers about agriculture.

What’s new on Farm Bureau University?
Farm Bureau Board Essentials, the newest online learning program, offers resources and training to county board members to improve governance, planning, policy development and advocacy, and membership.

Whether you’ve been on the board for three weeks or 30 years, Farm Bureau Board Essentials sharpens your skillset and understanding as a board member.

How to register for Farm Bureau University
Any member can register for free at New users need to register for an account and type in the correct code. The member code is “statefb” replacing state with the two-letter postal abbreviation. For example a New York Farm Bureau member’s code is “nyfb.”

Click here to register today.
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