Maine Food Policy News
#3 Mar 1, 2021
published weekly with support from a Sewall Foundation grant to Maine Farm to Institution
Each week, more bills are being published by the Revisor's Office. About 1/3rd of the 2000 Bills introduced have been published so far.

We'll list key Bills with Hearings coming soon below followed by other Bills that have been published and sent to Committees.

We urge you to consider view Committee work and submit testimony for Bills that are important to you. Here is info on participating in Committees.

Federal Bills will be listed towards the bottom of this email

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Key Bills with Hearings Coming Up

Click on titles to go to published PDFs for the Bills

Sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner A public hearing will take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Summary: Maintaining soil organic matter levels is at the heart of organic farming. Not only does organic matter improve structure, but it is the key to supporting the dynamic balance of the soil system by feeding bacterial and animal life as well as plants. Farmers across the management spectrum reap benefits from healthy soils practices especially as they face dramatic shifts in weather patterns. The goal of this legislation is to create a one-stop shop for farmers seeking healthy soils information including: healthy soils management practices; technical assistance services provided by both governmental and non-governmental entities; connections to farmers who are using these practices successfully; and funding opportunities to support the use of these practices. The Program would have a fund associated with it that could receive state funding in future years, but, in the interim, could be a depository for any federal or philanthropic funding. See Maine Farmland Trust's Action Alert here for more info.

LD 155 – Resolve, Directing the Board of Pesticides Control To Prohibit the Use of Certain Neonicotinoids for Outdoor Residential Use Sponsored by Representative Nicole Grohoski A public hearing will take place on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Summary: A growing body of scientific evidence links neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) with the alarming decline of bee populations. In addition to killing bees outright, research has shown that even low levels of these dangerous pesticides impair bees’ ability to learn, to find their way back to the hive, to collect food, to produce new queens, and to mount an effective immune response. Neonics are “systemic” pesticides, which means that the chemicals move inside plants. Generally, plant roots absorb the chemicals and then the chemicals move throughout the entire plant. Neonics are very efficient tools for many conventional farmers, landscapers and gardeners because any pest that feeds on any part of the plant will be exposed to the toxin. The poison also flows through to the pollen and nectar and is toxic to bees and other important pollinators. The Legislature will take up discussion on this important step toward reducing the use of products with certain neonic active ingredients: dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. The bill seeks to ban the use of these chemicals for application in outdoor residential landscapes.

Sponsored by: Representative Vicki Doudera A public hearing will take place on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. in the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Summary: Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide used for many food crops, mosquito control and turf management. It has been at the forefront of concern about synthetic pesticides for decades due to its neurotoxicity, especially among young children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned chlorpyrifos for residential use in 2001 recognizing that children exposed to the substance exhibited impaired cognitive function, developmental delays, lower IQs, attention deficit disorder, and other disorders of the neurosystem. Chlorpyrifos also was linked to adverse impacts on the reproductive system, renal, hepatic, and endocrine systems. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. In 2017, EPA reversed the order to ban the chemical and re-registered it for sale and use in agriculture in the U.S. Recognizing the dire impact that chlorpyrifos has on children, several states, including Hawaii, New York, Maryland and California have since passed laws to restrict or ban the pesticide. LD 316, would prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos in Maine beginning in 2022, allowing limited exemptions for one year. MOFGA supports a full ban on the sale and use of chlorpyrifos.

LD 125 – An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture
Sponsored by Senator Troy Jackson A hearing will take place on Tues. Mar 2, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.  the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee.
Summary: This is a MOFGA priority and also a priority of Maine's Environmental Priorities Coalition. Forestry herbicides such as glyphosate threaten public health, ecological systems, and local farms—yet Maine’s largest forest landowners routinely use aerial spraying of these hazardous chemicals to manage their property. Banning this practice will encourage a shift toward more ecologically friendly forestry management.

LD 362 - Resolve, To Require the Department of Education To Form a Family Income Data Collection Working Group, Sponsor Rep Brennan. A hearing will be held Mar 8 at 10am before Joint Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. This resolve directs the Dept of Education to form a working group to explore and recommend changes to how schools collect family income data, including data this is collected to secure funding for school nutrition programs.
Federal Food and Agriculture Bills

Rep. Pingree and others introduced The Strengthening Local Processing Act will increase options for local livestock and poultry producers and assist smaller facilities as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and expand to meet consumer demand. See the 2/23 Press Release for more information.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced the Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (H.R. 8096), and it will help meet the needs of farmers who've been left out during the pandemic. Here are THREE big reasons to support this bill:
  • It offers direct support for producers selling into local and regional markets based on the losses they've experienced. 
  • It prioritizes funding for BIPOC farmers and low-income communities of color and includes robust outreach, technical assistance, and data collection to ensure that aid is distributed equitably. 
  • It provides emergency response grants for farmers markets and local food enterprises to allow those operations to adapt to new market conditions, implement public health and safety protections, and further support communities experiencing food insecurity.

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The National Farm to School Network will hold two farm to school policy roundtables:

Key Event:

Register Here:

Other Events:

Maine Farmland Trust Lunch & Learn
March 8th @ noon - RSVP at link below

Bills Published but do not yet have Hearings Scheduled:
click on LD# to read Bill
LD568: 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 
LD87: An Act To Implement the State Climate Action Plan, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Enhance Maine's Economy
LD585: An Act To Restore to the Penobscot Nation and Passamaquoddy Tribe the Authority To Exercise Jurisdiction under the Federal Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010
LD174 An Act To Implement the Recommendations of the Ending Hunger by 2030 Advisory Group
LD262 An Act To Combat Hunger by Creating a Tax Credit of 10 Percent of Wholesale Market Prices up to $5,000 Annually for Businesses Engaged in Food Production for Donations of Food to Tax-exempt Organizations
LD485 An Act To Continue Funding for Home-delivered Meals for Homebound Seniors and To Address Growing Demand
Policy Partners
We urge you support these groups who do good policy work in Maine and beyond
For more information, contact Ken Morse, Coordinator of the Maine Food Policy Work Group