Pluecker bills expanding land access to farmers, increase animal welfare signed into law

Sat, 06/12/2021 - 10:00am

AUGUSTA —  Two bills sponsored by State Representative Bill Pluecker (I-Warren) were signed into law this week by Governor Janet Mills. 

LD 870, Resolve, “Directing the Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations To Study the Impact of Policies Regarding Agriculture, Access to Land, Access to Grants and Access to Financing on African-American and Indigenous Farmers in the State” will work with the newly created commission on developing new working farmlands for historically disenfranchised communities that have been excluded from grant processes.

In Maine, organizations including Nibezun and First Light’s Learning Journey have been organized to work to build trust and relationship between conservation organizations and the Maine Wabanaki tribes to expand indigenous access to land with a commitment to better serve Maine’s indigenous community and expand Wabanki access and stewardship of land.

“I have been so lucky to work with such amazing groups to get this bill over the finish line,” said Rep. Pluecker. “I now look forward to starting the real work of looking at our agricultural systems in a way that can address the inequities of the past and building a stronger agricultural industry for the future of our entire state.”

The Passamaquoddy Tribe, Maine Farmland Trust, MOFGA, and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry gave their support to this legislation at the public hearing.

LD 103, “An Act to Improve Animal Welfare Laws” was drafted in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) to make much-needed changes to the Animal Welfare Program to be more effective and efficient.

This bill is the result of meetings the Bureau of Animal Control has held over the past several years with community partners, including; veterinarians, boarding kennel owners, animal control officers, animal shelter managers, as well as law enforcement and emergency management agencies.

This will help clear hurdles when dealing with responses to disasters or complex cruelty cases. Additionally, this bill will allow for modifications with rabies vaccination requirements to reflect current science and proper use of the rabies vaccines as recommended by the Maine Rabies Working Group.

“It is always important to update the basic ways that the Department works to care for animals. As techniques are changed and issues arise, as a legislature we need to work with the executive branch to make sure that we are offering the best care for the most vulnerable creatures. ”

This legislation is supported by the Maine Veterinary Medical Association and the Maine Chapter of the Humane Society.

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