AUGUSTA — State Representative Bill Pluecker, I-Warren, introduced 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” to the Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee on Thursday, March 18.
If passed, this bill will create a new program to coordinate farmland conservation efforts with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry and the Land for Maine’s Future program.
This measure by Representative Pluecker would also help protect and preserve Maine working farmlands that are in danger of going under or being sold to be redeveloped.
Funds would help farmers access federal resources through the USDA to invest in innovation, pay down debt, purchase land, and diversify their operation.
“We all know that farming is the cornerstone of our rural economies and an economic engine throughout the state of Maine,” said Pluecker. “Working farmland is not only a pillar to the success of agriculture production, but also our heritage industry and part of Maine’s iconic image that radiates the best parts of our state.”
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.
Pluecker’s bill was supported by the Maine Farmland Trust, American Farmland Trust, Land for Good, and the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine.
The Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee will next schedule a work session to decide on the outcome of this bill.
Pluecker is serving his second term in Augusta and is serving on the Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee, as well as the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee.
The bill is co-sponsored by Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford