Shaping a 2023 Farm Bill that Serves Maine Farms

Shaping a 2023 Farm Bill that Serves Maine Farms

April 14, 2023


Kristina Buckley

We are excited to share Maine Farmland Trust’s 2023 Farm Bill Priorities.

Every five years, Congress drafts a new federal Farm Bill, which determines how billions of dollars are spent in our communities. The Farm Bill shapes what’s grown on the land and who grows it, conservation and climate, the safety of our food system, and the economic health of rural businesses and communities.

Our Process

To develop our Farm Bill priorities, we sought input from a range of stakeholders including the farmers that we work with, other Maine- and New England-based food and agriculture organizations, and national coalitions. To center farmers’ priorities in our policy work, Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) organized a series of listening sessions, administered a farmer survey, and shared a draft of our priority document for feedback. Despite a very snowy February cancelling some of the sessions, MFT successfully held two farmer listening sessions to gather ideas from farmers on what they wanted to see change in the next Farm Bill. The first listening session was held in Falmouth and the other online with participants from around the state. Several themes emerged from these conversions, including: farmers wanting existing programs to be easier to navigate and access; the need for more capacity at conservation and lending institutions to meet the demand; and the desire for more support for important, interrelated topics like farmland access and succession.

MFT also reached out to other Maine and New England-based food and farming organizations to have one-on-one conversations and discuss in more detail the changes they would like to see in the next Farm Bill. We sought input from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations, farmers and industry associations representing Maine dairy and specialty crops, and farmers focused on priorities that were surfacing during listening sessions – like PFAS and farmland access.

Our Priorities

As we work towards a 2023 Farm Bill that serves Mainers, we are collaborating with Maine’s congressional delegation and coalition partners to ensure the next Farm Bill strengthens support for four top priorities:

1. Farmland protection and access
2. Local and regional food systems development
3. Climate-smart agriculture
4. A federal safety net for PFAS-impacted farms

We want to see well-funded and efficiently managed federal programs that are accessible by and beneficial to small- and medium-sized farms, like many of those in Maine. We support less money going to the biggest, commodity crop farms in the country and more money spent supporting specialty crop and livestock producers, advancing conservation programming, and strengthening local and regional food economies.

Maine Farmland Trust supports measures that will advance equity and inclusion in the next Farm Bill. We promote increased funding for programs and policies designed to support underserved individuals and communities, especially farmers of color, as well as greater access to existing funding and programs so that all farmers can fairly access important resources and support.

How to Engage

You can learn more about our 2023 Farm Bill Priorities by downloading a full copy of our top recommendations, which includes why the issue matters to Maine farmers, how we are advocating for change, and a list of specific desired changes within federal programs.

Watch this space for a series of blog posts on each of our top Farm Bill recommendations and how you can help.
You can use your voice to advocate for Maine farms. Sign up to receive policy updates and action alerts. We’ll keep you in the loop on opportunities to contact your legislators and other actions you can take.

Are you a farmer interested in joining MFT to create policy change? Share your priorities and get involved.

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