MFT and MOFGA are jointly administering a PFAS emergency relief fund to support any farm dealing with potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.
The fund has three primary purposes:
- 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 help pay for initial PFAS testing on farms that choose to do their own testing.
- To support access to mental health services for impacted farmers.
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, PFAS Testing Grants and a Farmer Wellness Fund are now available to eligible farms. Applicants self-identified as Indigenous food and medicine producers do not need to meet commercial farm eligibility criteria for the PFAS Testing Grants.
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 soil or forage.
- Testing of products or inputs if a farm has any concerns relating to the purchase of inputs (hay, milk, etc.) from a farm known to have contamination.
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 to consumers outside of the household) are eligible.
- 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.
- Applicants self-identified as Indigenous food and medicine producers do not need to meet commercial farm eligibility criteria.
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 testing of inputs or products made with inputs from farms with suspected contamination, testing will be scheduled and collected in cooperation with Northern Tilth.
If you’d like a paper application, you can download a printable version here, or call Tricia at 207-338-6575.
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 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 Indemnity Payment Program that will provide long-term funding for this purpose.
The program is open to farms that receive test results indicating high levels of PFAS.
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 50% of your family income from the farm business.
- The farm has stopped sales of contaminated products.
- A W-9 form and a recent Schedule F from you.
- 4. Participants enrolled in the Income Replacement Program are paid weekly through MOFGA and MFT until the state indemnity program by DACF begins or the fund runs out of money. Participants agree to have their Income Replacement award deducted from the lump sum payment they receive from the Maine indemnity program in order to replenish the 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 Farmer Wellness Fund:
This fund is intended to holistically support farmers and farm workers impacted by PFAS contamination and is being jointly administered by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE) and is funded by the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network.
Eligibility and prioritization:
- All commercial farms. A farm does not need to have confirmed high PFAS test results though those farms and farm workers will be prioritized
- Farmworkers based on a farm affected by PFAS
- Indigenous food and medicine growers providing for community
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 MOFGA, MFT, and UMCE. Once we have followed up with you about your request we will confirm payment to your selected vendor and you will work independently with that vendor to access products or services.