This month, we wrapped up the workshop phase of our 2023 Farm Business Planning Programs,…
Action Alert: Support Funding Proposals for the Maine Healthy Soils Program and the Farmers Drought Relief Program
MFT understands that climate change is one of the most daunting challenges of our time, and will have significant impacts on Maine’s agricultural sector. Maine farmers are already experiencing climate change impacts, and are needing to adapt to the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, including excessive precipitation and drought. Farmers’ ability to run viable and resilient businesses in these unpredictable conditions is challenging, especially given the financial barriers to implementing practices and adopting infrastructure that would make them more resilient to climate change impacts.
The Maine Healthy Soils Program, a program MFT helped to champion in 2021, creates a hub for critical information, tools, and assistance to help more Maine farms use practices to build soil health and benefit from the climate change resilience and mitigation as well as the economic benefits that healthy soils can provide. Another program, the Farmers Drought Relief Grant Program, aims to help alleviate risks associated with drought conditions by providing farmers with grants to establish a sustainable and affordable source for irrigation water.
These programs are already established within Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), but have not yet been fully set up or implemented because they have not yet received robust funding.
Both of these important programs need your support!
A public hearing for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s portions of the Governor’s proposed biennial budget (LD 258) has been rescheduled for 10am on Friday March 3, 2023. We are very excited to support robust funding for the Maine Healthy Soils Program as well as for the Farmers Drought Relief Program.
The public hearing is being held by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, in conjunction with the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.
How you can help:
- Submit written testimony and/or sign-up to deliver oral testimony.
- Testifying over Zoom: You can submit written testimony and/or sign-up to deliver oral testimony over Zoom by following this link. Once there, select “public hearing,” select the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, the date of the hearing (March 3, 10am – you may have to wait for this new hearing date to appear), and the bill title (LD 258 – An Act Making Unified Appropriations and Allocations from the General Fund and Other Funds for the Expenditures of State Government and Changing Certain Provisions of the Law Necessary to the Proper Operations of State Government for the Fiscal Years Ending June 30, 2023, June 30, 2024 and June 30, 2025). You will then be able to upload written comments and/or sign up to provide live testimony. If you would like to deliver your testimony orally, you need to sign-up at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the hearing.
- Testifying in person: The hearing will be held in State House Room 228. A sign-up sheet will be available either in the committee room OR at a table just outside the committee room 30 minutes before the hearing begins. Bring 40 copies of any written testimony you want distributed to the two committees. If you are testifying in-person, you do not need to submit your written testimony through the portal.
- Reach out to members (listed below) of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and express your support for the biennial budget providing robust funding for the Maine Healthy Soils Program and the Farmers Drought Relief Program.
More information about the proposed funding:
MFT helped to champion the establishment of the Maine Healthy Soils Program in 2021. This program creates a hub for critical information, tools, and assistance to help more Maine farms use practices to build soil health and benefit from the climate change resilience and mitigation as well as the economic benefits that healthy soils can provide. The proposed funding for this program includes $3 million for FY 2023-24.
MFT also supports the proposed funding for the Farmers Drought Relief Grant Program, which would help alleviate risks associated with drought conditions by providing farmers with grants to establish a sustainable and affordable source for irrigation water. If approved, this funding would provide essential support to Maine farmers as they adapt in the face of climate impacts that are already affecting their livelihoods. The proposed funding for this program includes $2 million in FY 2023-24.
Members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee include:
Senator Margaret Rotundo of Androscoggin, Chair (D – Senate District 21) – Margaret.Rotundo@legislature.maine.gov
Senator Richard Bennett of Oxford (R – Senate District 18) – Richard.Bennett@Legislature.Maine.gov
Senator Jill Duson of Cumberland (D – Senate District 27) – Jill.Duson@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Melanie Sachs of Freeport, Chair (D – House District 102) – Melanie.Sachs@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Mark Blier of Buxton (R – House District 138) – Mark.Blier@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Nathan Carlow of Buxton (R – House District 137) – Nathan.Carlow@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Benjamin Collings of Portland (D – House District 114) – Benjamin.Collings@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Jack Ducharme of Madison (R – House District 71) – John.Ducharme@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Jessica Fay of Raymond (D – House District 86) – Jessica.Fay@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Drew Gattine of Westbrook (D – House District 126) – Andrew.Gattine@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Ann Matlack of St. George (D – House District 43) – Ann.Matlack@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth (D – House District 123) – Rebecca.Millett@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Sawin Millett of Waterford (R – House District 81) – Sawin.Millett@legislature.maine.gov
Members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee include:
Senator Henry Ingwersen of York, Chair (D – Senate District 32) – Henry.Ingwersen@Legislature.Maine.gov
Senator Russell Black of Franklin (R – Senate District 5) – Russell.Black@legislature.maine.gov
Senator Craig Hickman of Kennebec (D – Senate District 14) – Craig.Hickman@legislature.maine.gov
Representative Bill Pluecker of Warren, Chair (I – House District 44 – William.Pluecker@Legislature.Maine.gov)
Representative Danny Costain of Plymouth (R – House District 33) – Danny.Costain@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Dean Cray of Palmyra (R – House District 69) – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Timothy Guerrette of Caribou (R – House District 4) – Timothy.Guerrette@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Randy Hall of Wilton (R – House District 74) – Randall.Hall@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Allison Hepler of Woolwich (D – House District 49) – Allison.Hepler@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Caldwell Jackson of Oxford (R – House District 80) – Caldwell.Jackson@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Rebecca Jauch of Topsham (D – House District 51) – Rebecca.Jauch@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Laurie Osher of Orono (D – House District 25) – Laurie.Osher@Legislature.Maine.gov
Representative Kathleen Shaw of Auburn (D – House District 88) – Kathleen.Shaw@Legislature.Maine.gov
Questions? Reach out to Shelley Megquier, MFT’s Policy and Research Director email@example.com
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