As we look to the future, we know that a thriving agricultural landscape, where farms feed our economy, steward our natural resources, and nourish our communities, is possible, but it’s not inevitable.
We’re at a critical turning point right now. Between 2012 and 2017, Maine lost 10% of its farmland—that’s over 145,000 acres of pastureland, cropland, woodland and other agricultural land that is no longer being used by Maine farms. Development pressure is increasing in some parts of the state, and Maine farmers are nearing retirement age without younger farmers working alongside them. Both new and established farmers face challenges in affording and accessing the land and tools they need to grow thriving businesses. In 2019, we spent time listening to farmers and our partners around the state, and in response, we’ve outlined an ambitious plan to accelerate the pace and scale of our work to meet the most pressing challenges facing Maine farms today. Over the next five years, we will re-focus our work to affect change in four important areas.
We envision a future where farmers can grow successful businesses with access to the land, markets, and support they need to thrive now and in the future.
Our farmland is a precious and limited resource, and it’s the foundation for a strong agricultural economy. We need to protect Maine’s farmland and keep the land in farming by connecting new farmers to the land, supporting the transition of farms to the next generation, and helping farmers meet their business goals.
5 YEAR GOAL: Ensure that farmland stays in farming and is accessible for farmers by using strategic, creative, and flexible tools, and increase farm profitability by making sure that farmers get the support they need to establish, grow, and transfer their businesses.
HEALTHY, VIBRANT COMMUNITIES
We envision a future where Maine communities value farms as essential to the overall health of people, the economy, and the environment, and to fostering a sense of place.
Our communities thrive when farms of all scales and types are profitable and valued for what they provide – healthy food and farm products, open space, economic and environmental benefits, and community character.
5 YEAR GOAL: Grow the number of communities and people connecting with, eating from, celebrating and caring for Maine’s farms to help boost local economies, increase access to food, and increase quality of life while supporting our farm businesses.
STEWARDSHIP + CLIMATE
We envision a future where farmers are integral to caring for Maine’s natural resources and can proactively respond to a changing climate.
Maine farmers have long been stewards of the land, soil, water, and natural resources that we all depend upon. As our climate continues to change, our farmers are on the frontlines and need to be prepared to adapt to unpredictable weather, storms, drought, and increases in pests and disease.
5 YEAR GOAL: Support Maine farmers so that they can adopt and implement climate smart and other conservation practices to help alleviate the impacts of climate change while increasing farm profitability.
EQUITY + INCLUSION
We envision a future where we understand how diversity, equity, and inclusion intersect with our work and with Maine’s farm and food systems, and work to eliminate inequity.
We know that in order to create lasting and positive change within Maine’s food and farm systems, Maine Farmland Trust needs to better understand the ways in which our work interfaces with these foundational issues.
5 YEAR GOAL: Increase our education and awareness around diversity, equity, inclusion and the structural barriers that exist in the farm and food system and then apply our learning to adjust our programming, governance, operations, and public messaging to help eliminate inequity.