Maine Food Policy News
#5 Mar 15, 2021
Published weekly with support from
an Elmina B. Sewall Foundation grant to Maine Farm to Institution
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Key Bills with Committee Work Coming Up

Click on titles to go to published PDFs for the Bills. The YouTube links will take you to live committee sessions.

Sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner A public hearing will take place on Thursday, March 16, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. in the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. ACF Youtube link
Summary:  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. See Maine Farmland Trust's Action Alert here for more info

LD 489: RESOLUTION, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Establish a Right to a Healthy Environment Sponsored by Senator Chloe Maxmin A work session will take place on Wed, March 17, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in the Joint Environment and Natural Resources Committee. ENR Youtube link
Summary: Known at Pine Tree Amendment it creates a Constitutional Right to Pure Water, Clean Air, a Stable Climate and Healthy Environments. Given that we all depend upon pure water, clean air, a stable climate & a healthy environment to support and sustain our healthy lives and our healthy economy, it is right and appropriate that they should be protected with the same legal strength that we protect the other political, civil, property and human rights we hold dear. If you support this bill, please sign this Green Amendment petition here.

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 17 at 10am before Joint Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. ECA Youtube link 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.

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, sponsored by Rep. Pluecker A hearing will be held Mar 18 at 9am before Joint Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee ACF Youtube link

Here is a related Bill for key Land for Maine's Future Bill:
LD 983: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Promote Land Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Water Access and Outdoor Recreation sponsored by Sen. Breen sent to the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. $80 million bond acquisition of land and interest in land for conservation, water access, outdoor recreation, wildlife and fish habitat, working farmland and working waterfront preservation.

LD 262: 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 sponsored by Rep Roberts-Lovell. Hearing Mar 18, 1pm before the Joint Taxation Committee

LD 69i: An Act To Support Farms and Address Food Insecurity, sponsored by Rep. Pluecker. Hearing on March 25, 9am before the Joint Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee ACF Youtube link This bill establishes the Fund To Address Food Insecurity and Provide Nutrition Incentives within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to provide incentives to federal food and nutrition assistance program participants for the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables and to support outreach for and administration of programs that offer nutrition incentives to participants of federal food and nutrition assistance programs.
Full Plates, Full Potential is working to end child hunger in Maine in part by working on these Bills. Click on logo for more information and to arrange to testify.
LD 636: An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Local Foods for Public Schools, sponsored by Sen. Eloise Vitelli, Hearing March 24, 10am before Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, ECA Youtube link

LD 655: An Act to Require at Least 30-minute Lunch Period for Public Schools, sponsored by Rep. Jan Dodge, Hearing March 24, 10am before Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, ECA Youtube link
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.

USDA AMS has set up a listening session for stakeholders to provide feedback on implementing the additional funding for food purchases and distribution. There is also an opportunity to submit written comments. Here are the details: March 22, 2021 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET Register in advance for this webinar.

Maine Conservation Voters Lunch and Learn
Friday, March 19th, from 12-1 PM 

Farm-Based Education Network
3-4:30pm, April 1, 15, and 29, 2021

Hosted by Food Tank
April 28, 2021
Bills Published but do not yet have Hearings Scheduled:
click on LD# to read Bill
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
Editor's Note:
With over 1000 Bills now being published, including over 100 related to food, environment, climate and equity issues, finding, tracking and providing support for advocacy actions is becoming much more complex. So, we will be publishing the Maine Food Policy website this week that will help you find much more information topic by topic to supplement this news.
For more information, contact Ken Morse, Coordinator of the Maine Food Policy Work Group