Federal Support for Maine Farmers
Last week, MFT was pleased to see that Congress passed and the President signed an aid package that includes $9.5 billion for agricultural producers impacted by COVID-19, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, and livestock producers.
This is an important first step in ensuring that Maine farmers get the support they need to navigate this major challenge and continue to feed our communities, run their businesses, and make our food and agriculture system even more resilient in the long-term. We are very grateful to everyone who responded to our action alert and called their members of Congress to help make this happen.
But there is still more work to do. MFT will be working with Maine’s congressional delegation and partners and farmers across the state to ensure that this funding is available for the producers in Maine who need it, and that more support for Maine farmers and food businesses are included in the next aid package. Stay tuned for more information about additional actions you can take. You can stay connected to MFT’s policy work by signing up for action alerts HERE.
Maine Legislature Adjourned
The Maine Legislature convened Tuesday, March 17th to approve a supplemental budget agreement and emergency COVID-19 measures before adjourning in response to the outbreak. The approved package contains increases in funding for the state to respond to COVID-19; establishes a loan guarantee program through FAME in partnership with financial institutions to provide low- or no-interest loans; and temporarily expands eligibility for unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19, among other provisions. The approved $76 million supplemental budget supports a $120 million bond proposal, which includes a $105 million bond for transportation and a $15 million bond for the expansion of broadband in unserved and underserved areas (one of MFT’s policy priorities for this session). Unfortunately, MFT’s other state legislative policy priorities this session – including a bond to fund the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program and the establishment of a state nutrition incentive fund – will not be addressed unless and until the Legislature reconvenes later this year.