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HARVEST, March 2015

HARVEST: Farm and Food News From Maine and Beyond
March 2015

Check back each month for a selection of articles, stories, and trends you might have missed.

March was Women’s History Month! There are some awesome women farmers leading the global fight against climate change, nationally changing the way we think about farming sustainably, and working together for the whole food and farming sector. Maine has had one of the highest percentages of female farmers of any state for a long time. Go, ladies!

Health + thriving farms: Maine hospitals are increasingly using local food in their dining options, to the delight of patients.

Local farm products are in other Maine institutions, too, namely, schools. But they still face obstacles, especially in processing that food.

Portland, ME is becoming a national leader in the local food movement, largely thanks to the continuing efforts of Mayor Michael Brennan.

Overall demand for local food is growing in Maine, although finding skilled labor to work all those local farms is challenging.

Another challenge: food access. Since LePage took office, 9,000 Mainers have been cut from the food stamp program, and are increasingly forced to rely on hunger relief programs like food pantries. Projects like Veggies For All are working hard to get more local food into those outlets (stay tuned for more food access news in April!).

Things that go moo: more Maine dairies are adding value to their milk by making cheese, and selling retail instead of wholesale. And Maine’s raw milk debate is moving to the legislative arena.

Will international trade agreements hurt small Maine farms? Very possibly.

Maine is poised to be a leader in the growth of… grass! We have excellent pasture land and should take advantage of it.

Nationally, there’s increased interest in sustainable farming methods like no-till farming that focus on conserving the soil.

Our food system is changing, driven largely by the energy of young consumers and farmers: millennials.

The USDA is proposing changing the definition of farming, which would impact the level of subsidies on many operations.

Finally, Wendell Berry writes eloquently on the changing nature of our farm landscape, and how important it is to keep people on that land.

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