June 6, 2023
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is holding a public hearing on June 12 to gather feedback on the draft PFAS Fund Implementation Plan. The $60 million PFAS Fund was established in 2022 to provide farmers impacted by PFAS contamination with critical resources to support health monitoring, income replacement, new business models, relocation services, the buying of contaminated land, and soil remediation research. The creation of the PFAS Fund wouldn’t have been possible without widespread public action demanding that impacted farmers receive comprehensive support. The draft implementation plan is another important opportunity to engage – farmer voices and public input will be vital in shaping the fund and its implementation.
You can provide input on the draft implementation plan during the upcoming public hearing and/or by completing an online survey.
Ways to Get Involved
Learning from the experience of Maine farmers and based on the knowledge that PFAS contamination is widespread across the country, a federal policy effort is underway to support affected farmers with financial and technical resources. The Relief for Farmers Hit by PFAS Act is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to include a new program in the next Farm Bill that would provide vital assistance to farmers affected by PFAS across the country. You can help shine a spotlight on the need for this program!
The deadline to submit suggestions to the House Agriculture Committee for the 2023 Farm Bill is this Friday, June 9th. To advocate for including the Relief for Farms Hit by PFAS Act as a new program in the 2023 Farm Bill, fill out and submit the House Farm Bill feedback form. When you get to the question about new programs you would like to see considered in the Farm Bill, write “Relief for Farms Hit by PFAS Act” and explain why you think a Federal program for PFAS relief is important for farmers. If needed, you can reference MFT’s 2023 Farm Bill Priorities document for a comprehensive list of what we want the next Farm Bill to include.
More information on state-level opportunities
Maine’s PFAS Fund draft implementation plan was crafted with input from an advisory committee–which includes several farmers and is chaired by Senator Stacy Brenner and Representative Jessica Fay–as well as four subcommittees. MFT staff participated in three of the four subcommittees and other members included farmers, legislators, agency heads, agricultural experts, and healthcare professionals. The implementation plan aims to support farmers' continued operations despite PFAS presence, offering replacement income, financial assistance, infrastructure investments, and research funding. It also includes health-related recommendations for affected individuals, such as blood testing, medical monitoring, mental health care, and clinical trials.
More information on federal-level opportunities
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden introduced the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act, which would authorize grants for states to provide financial assistance to affected farmers, expand monitoring and testing, remediate PFAS, or even help farmers relocate. The funds authorized by the Relief for Farmers Hit with PFAS Act could be used for a variety of purposes at the state level including:
The bill would also create a task force at USDA charged with identifying other USDA programs to which PFAS contamination should be added as an eligible activity – bringing even more resources to impacted farmers through existing programs. Additionally, the task force would provide technical assistance to states to help them coordinate their responses effectively.