National Healthy Soils Policy Network
Launched early in 2018, the National Healthy Soils Policy Network is a group of farmer-centered organizations that advocate for state and federal policies on behalf of sustainable, organic, beginning, minority and/or family farmers. The group recognizes the importance of using farmer-informed policy to scale up these practices, leveraging robust funding, technical assistance and research to accelerate their widespread adoption at the state level. Members share models, lessons learned and strategies related to policies that incentivize agricultural practices with climate benefits, in particular, those that build healthy soils.
Network members are aligned in their conviction that many farming and ranching management practices can significantly mitigate climate change, enhance on-farm resilience to extreme weather and drought, and improve water and air quality and that these solutions require supportive policies View the members of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network HERE.
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.
Throughout its history, the dairy sector has been a consistent agricultural and economic force in Maine. Today, farmers are facing daunting challenges that threaten the stability of the sector. This report provides a historical perspective and contemporary analysis of these challenges. It also presents some opportunities for policy and market interventions that could help to stabilize the Maine dairy sector and enhance its future viability. Read full report HERE.
During an engagement effort that was coordinated by a group of agriculture organizations and farm business owners between August 2018 and January 2019, farmers across the state were asked to share their ideas about what is needed to strengthen farm businesses and grow Maine agriculture. The purpose of this statewide engagement process is to inform state policy development and the programmatic offerings of agriculture service and education providers. A report synthesizing the feedback received through this process was finalized in June of 2019.
Learn more and read the full report here.
Research efforts underway for the Natural Climate Solutions Initiative
In recent years, land-based natural climate solutions have emerged as an important strategy to increase climate change resilience on farms and in our communities, while also improving farm profitability. Natural climate solutions include farmland protection, healthy soils practices, and other land management practices that increase carbon storage, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and improve water quality. Natural climate solutions can be adopted by farmers with operations of all sizes and production methods and can contribute to the financial viability of a farm, helping to both increase yields and save money over time.
MFT is leading the Maine Climate Table’s Natural Climate Solutions Initiative (NCSI), in collaboration with the University of Maine, American Farmland Trust, Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, and other partners. Check back for updates soon.
The Unity Food Hub (UFH) was a business that aggregated, marketed, and distributed food from Maine farms and food businesses from 2015 through 2017. UFH was owned and operated by Unity Food Hub Management, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of MFT. This Case Study documents the history, mission, and structure of UFH, the services it provided, and the changes it underwent while in operation. Based upon interviews with UFH staff and stakeholders, some market impact analysis, and exploration of the work of other food aggregators, the Case Study also describes UFH’s business model and its position within the local food economy, including the impact its services had on some of its farm partners. Through reviewing the challenges that UFH faced and the changing circumstances in which it operated, this Case Study also explains the reasoning behind the ultimate decision to cease its aggregation and distribution operations in 2017. Full Case Study HERE.
Land Reclamation in the 21st Century
Andrew Marshall, MFT’s Policy and Research Fellow, spent his time with MFT studying agricultural land reclamation. The culmination of his work was presented in a webinar, put on by MFT and The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry. This webinar, intended for landowners and service providers, covers his findings of best practices and guidance for agricultural land reclamation. Topics include identifying and assessing land suitability for reclamation, environmental and climate considerations, regulatory guidance, reclamation strategies and practices, economic and cost considerations, and post-reclamation management. Speakers include: Amanda Beal, ME DACF Commissioner; David Rocque, ME State Soil Scientist; Graham Mallory, Farmer at Pastures of Plenty; and Andrew Marshall, MFT Policy and Research Fellow. Watch the webinar HERE.