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“Maine Won’t Wait, A Plan for Climate Action”

On Dec. 1, 2020, the Maine Climate Council presented the state’s new climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait, A Plan for Climate Action, to the Governor and the Maine Legislature. The Maine Climate Council (MCC) – a collection of industry leaders, scientists, lawmakers, municipal officials, conservationists, and citizens – was established to advise the Governor and the Legislature on mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and at least 80% by 2050, and to reduce the impacts of climate change on its residents, communities, industries, and ecosystems. Ellen Stern Griswold, MFT’s Policy and Research Director, is part of the Natural and Working Lands Working Group (NWLWG), which delivered its recommendations related to agriculture, forestry, and natural lands to the MCC in June to inform the state’s updated climate action plan.

MFT is thrilled to see the inclusion of many important agriculture-related strategies in the new climate action plan. These critical strategies include:

  • Increasing by 2030 the total acreage of conserved lands in the state to 30% through voluntary, focused purchases of land and working forest or farm conservation easements.
  • Revising scoring criteria for state conservation funding to incorporate climate mitigation and resiliency goals.
  • Developing policies by 2022 to ensure renewable energy project siting is streamlined and transparent while seeking to minimize impacts on natural and working lands and engaging key stakeholders.
  • Increasing the amount of food consumed in Maine from state food producers from 10% to 20% by 2025, and 30% by 2030 through local food system development.
  • Supporting the ability of Maine’s natural-resource economies to adapt to climate change impacts.
  • Engaging in regional discussions to consider multistate carbon programs that could support Maine’s working lands and natural resource industries and state carbon neutrality goals.
  • Increasing technical service provider capacity by 2024 to deliver data, expert guidance, and support for climate solutions to communities, farmers, loggers, and foresters at the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Forest Service, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Department of Marine Resources, and the University of Maine.
  • Establishing the University of Maine as the coordinating hub for state-applied research on forestry, agriculture, and natural land-related climate concerns, including research around climate-friendly agricultural practices.

As an organization focused on growing the future of farming in Maine, our work is centered on protecting farmland and making sure farmers have the tools to adapt in an uncertain future. The strategies contained in the new climate action plan, and the resources provided in the future to further those strategies, will ensure that in Maine we have a thriving agricultural landscape – where farms feed our economy, steward our natural resources, and nourish our communities – for years to come. You can review the full climate action plan here.

MFT is looking forward to working with farmers and other agriculture support organizations to advance the legislative and administrative actions needed to carry out the agriculture-related strategies.

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