Bills helping farmers transition from PFAS contaminated land, establish working farmland access program signed into law

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 8:45pm

AUGUSTA — Two bills sponsored by State Representative Bill Pluecker, I-Warren, to help farmers with contaminated farmland and to protect existing farmland have been signed into law. 

LD 558, “Resolve, Directing the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry To Develop a Study Plan Relating to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Contamination in the Agricultural Sector” will direct the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop a comprehensive research study plan to identify and aid farmers who are or may be affected by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination.

This plan will consider alternative crops that may be planted on the land, or alternative land uses for contaminated land, per a news release. 

“PFAS and the chemicals related to it are likely to become a giant challenge to our Agricultural industry,” said Rep. Pluecker. “We don’t have the money as a state to try to remediate the contamination. We need to begin the hard work of finding ways to support our industry, keep our farms open, and preserve the safety of our consumers.”

This bill was supported by the Maine Farm Bureau Association & the Maine Department of Agriculture.

LD 568, “An Act To Establish a Working Farmland Access and Protection Program within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and a Working Farmland Access and Protection Fund within the Land for Maine's Future Program”

Funds would help farmers access federal resources through the USDA to invest in innovation, pay down debt, purchase land, and diversify their operation.

This effort would replicate the success of the Working Waterfront Access Protection Fund within Land for Maine’s Future and the Department of Marine Resources, which has locally helped the Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-Op, the Friendship Lobster Co-Op, and Miller’s Wharf in St. George.

“We need to protect our agricultural and rural legacy, and without the land, we have no way of doing that,” said Rep. Pluecker. “This bill is a first step towards doing that work and preserving our rural way of life. Thank you to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Conservation and all the organizations that came together to support this bill.”

This bill was supported by the Maine Farmland Trust, American Farmland Trust, Land for Good, and the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine.

Pluecker represents Appleton, Hope, Union, and Warren in the legislature. He is serving his second term.