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Recent Policy & Research News

This January, MFT’s Policy and Research Team jumped into the new year with state advocacy work and presentations on important policy topics.

STATE POLICY PRIORITIES

Questions about priorities? Contact Policy & Research Director Ellen Stern Griswold, egriswold@mainefarmlandtrust.org

During this legislative session, MFT will be focusing on the following state legislative priorities:

Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Bond

MFT supports this bill because it would establish a bond measure on the June or November ballot to provide funding for the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program, Maine’s primary source of funding for conservation. The Legislature adjourned last session without providing any funding, but the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs will be considering the legislation again this session. Help send the LMF bond to the ballot! Call your legislators and tell them to vote YES on LD 911.

Broadband Expansion

In our work, one of the biggest impediments we see to farmers growing and diversifying their businesses is the lack of access to reliable, high-speed Internet service. MFT’s Policy and Research Director, Ellen Stern Griswold, joined the Advisory Committee of the Maine Broadband Coalition to help advance the policy and advocacy objectives of the Coalition during this legislative session. As part of that effort, Ellen provided testimony in support of LD 2021, a bill that would allocate $15 million in state funds to help expand broadband access across the state.

State Nutrition Incentive Fund

MFT supports LD 920 because it would create a fund to provide incentives to recipients of federal food and nutrition assistance programs to buy more locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. These types of programs, like MFT’s Farm Fresh Rewards, help all kinds of Maine farms gain new customers and build sales, thereby keeping more dollars in Maine’s food economy. The Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs will be considering the legislation again this session.

PRESENTATIONS

Solar Presentation at Agricultural Trades Show

Ellen Stern Griswold was part of a presentation about solar energy development on farmland at the Agricultural Trades Show on January 16, 2020. Ellen provided an overview of the work of the Solar Siting Working Group to develop solar siting guidelines and proposed regulations that properly balance solar generation and agricultural production interests. She also discussed MFT’s work to create an information sheet for farmland owners that describes some of the issues and considerations that landowners should think about when considering leasing land for solar development or evaluating option and lease agreements.

Find MFT’s Solar Siting Guidelines HERE and the Info Sheet for Farmland Owners HERE.

Presentation on the Dairy Sector Report for Legislators

MFT finalized its Dairy Sector Report at the end of 2019. The Report is part of MFT’s State of Maine Agriculture Report Series, which provides analysis of sector-based agricultural trends to policymakers so that targeted policies can be advanced to address the needs of each agricultural sector in Maine. Find a copy of the Dairy Sector Report HERE.

Ellen Stern Griswold provided a presentation about the Report to the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry on Jan. 23, 2020 in conjunction with Rick Kersbergen, Extension Professor of Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Julie-Marie Bickford, Executive Director of the Maine Dairy Industry Association; and Annie Watson, President of the Maine Organic Milk Producers and Owner of Sheepscot Valley Farm.

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