The new year brings an opportunity for reflection on happenings and accomplishments, and anticipation of…
Maine’s agricultural sector – with its more than 8,000 farms and approximately 1.5 million acres of farmland – is already a key component of the state’s economy and working landscape. Its impact is clear: nearly $3.8 billion in statewide sales, an almost $1.4 billion contribution to state value-added (the difference between the value of statewide sales and the cost of raw materials), and over 24,000 jobs statewide. Agriculture is also one of the sectors in Maine bringing younger people to the state.
But agriculture can and should play an even greater role in Maine’s economy. Reaching this goal depends on farmers accessing the right infrastructure, tools and support systems to grow their operations and reach new markets. Policies and investments must be structured to realize that economic potential by helping farmers reduce costs, create efficiency, build infrastructure, and increase net farm income and growth opportunities. Support is also needed for research and technological advancements in order to increase access to locally grown food for all Mainers.
In recent months, Maine Farmland Trust and several Maine-based organizations have been working together to create an Agriculture Policy Platform. The Platform will outline the policy objectives that the next administration should endorse to promote a more economically viable, environmentally conscious, resilient, and equitable agricultural system in Maine. The Platform aims to spark discussion with and among gubernatorial candidates, to increase attention to food and agriculture issues during the 2018 campaign, and to inform the next administration’s strategies for supporting farmers and ensuring a robust future for agriculture in our state. Maine agriculture has enormous economic potential, but success requires understanding and bold leadership from a governor ready to foster its development.
Stay tuned — more information about the Platform will be available on our website once it is finalized.
 Farm Credit East. (2015). Northeast Economic Engine: Agriculture, Forest Products and
Commercial Fishing at 8-9. Retrieved from: https://www.farmcrediteast.com/knowledge-exchange/Reports/northeast-economic-engine-agriculture-forest-products-and-commercial-fishing; Rigoberto A. Lopez, et al. (2014). Economic Impacts of Agriculture in Eight Northeastern States: A Report for Farm Credit East. Mansfield: University of Connecticut. Retrieved from http://zwickcenter.uconn.edu/documents/ResearchReportno2.pdf.