MFT and MOFGA are jointly administering a PFAS emergency relief fund to support any Maine farm dealing with potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.
The fund has four primary purposes at this time:
- To help pay for initial PFAS testing on farms that choose to do their own testing.
- To reduce the emotional impact of the PFAS crisis by funding wellness costs and supporting access to mental health services for impacted farmers.
- To provide short-term income replacement for farms that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) has identified as having high test results.
- To invest in infrastructure adaptations to help PFAS impacted farms remain viable.
This fund is meant to serve as a safety net for farms, providing interim support from initial PFAS testing to when they can access DACF’s longer-term PFAS support programs. Income Replacement Grants and PFAS Testing Grants are now available to eligible farms. Applicants self-identified as Indigenous producers of food and medicine do not need to meet commercial farm eligibility criteria for the PFAS Testing Grants. Wellness grants are available to cover the cost of broadly understood investments in stress relief and mental health.
PFAS Testing Grants
This PFAS Testing Grants Program, administered by MFT and MOFGA, assists farmers who have concerns regarding potential PFAS contamination. The Program will pay for:
- Testing of home or irrigation water for contamination with these chemicals
- Testing of farm soil
- Testing of farm products
A simple application form will assess eligibility for the program and several farms will be selected upon a weekly review to participate in the program.
Eligibility and prioritization:
- All commercial farms (a farm that sells at least $2,000 to consumers outside of the household) are eligible.
- Applicants self-identified as Indigenous producers of food and/or medicine do not need to meet commercial farm eligibility criteria.
- Farms must state that they require financial assistance for PFAS testing.
- Farms who are seeking to test materials associated with land that was licensed and/or spread with biosolids.
- Farms that derive at least 50% of their family income from their farm will be prioritized.
- Farms classified as “Tier 1” licensed sites will be prioritized.
- The program is available to farms whose lenders are requiring a water and/or soil test
- Farmers who are located on licensed sites who had to pay for testing to investigate their risk prior to the establishment of this program on March 1, 2022 may seek reimbursement for tests that are ineligible for reimbursement from state agencies due to having low test results.
We have limited resources and unfortunately may not be able to fund all eligible applications. Award decisions will be made according to available testing program funds, applicant eligibility and priorities.
Test results will need to be shared with MFT or MOFGA as we will seek reimbursement from DEP and DACF for high test results in order to replenish the testing fund for other farmers to access. We will not share this information outside of our organizations, DACF, and DEP.
- Farms submit an application here.
- MFT and MOFGA will review applications weekly and determine award recipients and amounts based on eligibility, priority sites, and amount of funding available.
- MOFGA and MFT will pay testing fees directly to cooperating consultants and laboratories.
- For water sampling awards, we will provide instructions to recipients on how to collect samples in cooperation with Maine Environmental Laboratory.
- For all other sampling awards, testing will be scheduled and collected in cooperation with Northern Tilth.
- For farmers seeking reimbursement for tests taken before the program launch, we will pay the farmer directly.
If you’d like a paper application, you can download a printable version here, or call Tricia at 207-338-6575.
PFAS Farmer Wellness Fund:
This fund is intended to holistically support farmers and farm workers impacted by PFAS contamination by providing up to $500 per person to pay for wellness expenses. The Maine PFAs Farmer Wellness Fund was launched as is a project of the Maine Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (Maine FRSAN) funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded to the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) and managed by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE). The fund is now managed by MOFGA and partially funded through the PFAS Emergency Fund co-administered by MOFGA and Maine Farmland Trust.
Eligibility and prioritization:
- All commercial farms are eligible. A farm does not need to have confirmed high PFAS test results though those farms and farm workers will be prioritized.
- Farmworkers must be based on a farm affected by PFAS.
- Indigenous growers of food and/or medicine providing for the community.
Apply to the wellness fund
We cannot pay the applicant directly for or reimburse any expenses, and will instead directly pay for any services or products applicants request. Please take care to verify the contact information for payment for the service or product before submission.
As farmer wellness is broadly defined, there is a wide range of eligible uses for this fund including therapy, childcare, acupuncture, gift cards to purchase uncontaminated food and/or water, massage, traditional healers, and other supports that would help reduce stress at this time. If testing for PFAS contamination will reduce stress you are experiencing, please see the specific testing fund application above.
All answers on this form are confidential to those administering the fund which includes a limited staff from MFT, MOFGA and UMCE. Once we have followed up with you about your request, you will be enrolled in the program and receive a check for up to $500 based on the amount of your grant request.
Income Replacement Grants:
Income Replacement Grants replace lost business income for farms that have paused or reduced farm sales due to PFAS contamination. Farms will receive interim support through weekly checks based on their prior farm income, the availability of funds, and the needs of other farms. Meanwhile, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is working to establish its own PFAS Income Replacement Program that will provide long-term funding for this purpose.
The program is open to farms that receive test results that show contamination in water, farm soils, crops or livestock and are referred to us by DACF with the recommendation (from DACF or CDC) that the farm should pause sales pending further analysis.
Farms wishing to participate should take the following steps to enroll:
- 1. If you have tested for PFAS contamination and received results that indicate high levels, contact Nancy McBrady, bureau director at Maine DACF, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-287-7522. If you have not yet tested for PFAS, find information about testing here.
- 2. After contacting Nancy McBrady, she will provide a referral to MFT and MOFGA, confirming high levels of PFAS contamination and the need to stop sales that will make farmers eligible for the Income Replacement Program.
- 3. Farm enrollment will be complete when the farm is contacted by a representative from MFT or MOFGA and the following elements are received:
- Verification that the farmer earns at least 50% of their family’s income from the farm business.
- The farm has stopped sales of contaminated products.
- A W-9 form and a recent Schedule F from the farm.
Participants enrolled in the Income Replacement Program are paid bi-weekly through MFT and MOFGA until they begin receiving payments from DACF’s PFAS Income Replacement Program or the fund runs out of money. Participants agree to have their income replacement award deducted from the payment they receive from the Maine Income Replacement Program. That deducted portion of their award from DACF will be used to replenish MFT and MOFGA’s emergency fund that will continue to support contaminated farms.
MFT and MOFGA have quickly shifted staff resources to support impacted farmers and advocate for state and federal response. If you’d like to support our work, you can do so here or donate directly to the PFAS Emergency Relief Fund here.
PFAS Infrastructure Investment Program
Farms affected by PFAS contamination have a wide variety of needs to enable financial stability and, where possible, future farm viability. MFT and MOFGA see a need to quickly administer funding to cover the upfront costs of infrastructure necessary to farmers’ responses to PFAS contamination, while DACF develops longer-term support programs.
Infrastructure Funding Program Use of Funds
- Farms who have test results that show contamination in water, farm soils, crops, livestock or products (for water, contamination must be above action threshold), and are referred to us by DACF with the recommendation (from DACF or CDC) that the farm should invest in noted appropriate infrastructure.
- Any infrastructure expenses
- Farms who have tested, contacted DACF with their results, and identified necessary infrastructure investments needed to continue production safely.
- DACF refers the farm to MFT/MOFGA, confirming contamination and their recommendation that the farm pay for noted infrastructure.
- Farms send MFT/MOFGA a cost estimate and timeline from the infrastructure vendor. MFT/MOFGA will share that cost estimate and timeline with DACF for approval.
- MFT/MOFGA meet weekly to assess the capacity of the fund to cover the upfront costs of approved infrastructure investments until DACF contracts are in place to directly cover the costs of noted infrastructure, or until budgeted funds run out.
This Fund is supported in part by:
The PFAS Emergency Relief Fund is also supported in part by the following funds: the EarthSea Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, the Ezra James Briggs Family Fund, the Ram Island Conservation Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and Seal Bay II of Maine Community Foundation.
Finally, the fund is supported by many generous donations from people like you! Click here to donate to the Fund.