Maine Food Policy News
#2 Feb 19 2021
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Featured Bills

Recognize Tribal Sovereignty
The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980 established a different, more restrictive status for the Wabanaki tribes in Maine than that of all 574 other federally-recognized tribes in the United States. A bipartisan task force recommended 22 changes to the Act to restore the tribes’ inherent rights, including the tribes’ right to regulate hunting, fishing, natural resources, and land use on tribal lands, as allowed by federal law.
The following bill was introduced by Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross but has not been published yet: An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Task Force on Changes to the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Implementing Act. Stay tuned as we will continue to monitor this and related Bills.

This constitutional resolution declares that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. A public hearing will take place on Tues. Feb. 23, 9am

Here are Priority Bills from our friends at MOFGA. You can stay tuned to MOFGA priorities by checking their Take Action Page
Click on titles to go to published PDF fo the Bills

Sponsored by Senator Stacy Brenner
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.
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. A public hearing will take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. 

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.
Status: The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee will hold a public hearing on this bill on Thursday, February 18th, at 9:30 a.m.

Sponsored by: Representative Vicki Doudera
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.
Status: This bill has been scheduled for a public hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.

Sponsored by Senator Troy Jackson
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.
Status: This bill has been assigned to the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. A hearing will take place on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. 
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The National Farm to School Network will hold two farm to school policy roundtables:
Join Cumberland County Food Security Coaltion for a policy forum to discuss
state and federal legislation affecting our local food system
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