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State

House Passes Farm Bill Critical to Maine Crops, Forests & Organic Farmers
By Ed Gilman Office of Rep Michaud
Jan 31, 2014 - 12:10:14 AM

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WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, Representative Mike Michaud voted to pass the bipartisan conference report for the 5-year Farm Bill. Although the House passed the conference report, the Senate must also pass it before it's sent to President Obama for his signature.

"This bipartisan bill, while not perfect, represents a true compromise that will greatly benefit Maine farmers and our state's economy. It contains provisions that are critical to our crops, including potatoes, and it makes an historic investment in conservation programs. It's also a boon to our state's organic farmers and continues support for Maine's growing biomass industry," said Michaud.

The bill funds critical programs that support organic research, marketing, and certification cost share programs that will make a real difference for Maine's organic farmers. The bill also makes a strong commitment to Maine's specialty crops, which include fruits and vegetables such as potatoes and blueberries that are such a big part of Maine's agricultural economy.

"The bill contains the most significant government investment ever in the specialty crop industry of which the Maine potato industry is a part. The Maine potato industry appreciates the role that Representative Michaud has played in moving this important piece of legislation forward," said Tim Hobbs of the Maine Potato Board.

The Farm Bill contains a 55 percent increase in new resources dedicated to important potato industry priorities, including:

  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which provides funding for critical research to address zebra chip, acrylamide, and Potato virus Y (PVY);
  • Specialty Crop Block Grants, which provide funding for state-specific projects to promote and research potatoes;
  • Market Access Program, which provides funding for specialty crops, including potatoes, to promote U.S. agriculture in foreign markets; and
  • Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, which addresses foreign market access barriers that block the export of U.S. agricultural products, including potatoes, from their intended destination.

The conservation and forestry provisions in the bill fund a variety of voluntary partnerships and cooperative conservation efforts between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private landowners. These initiatives represent the single largest federal investment in private-lands conservation.

"The Farm Bill plays an essential role in helping private land owners make a continued commitment to conservation," said Kate Dempsey of The Nature Conservancy. "It funds programs in Maine that improve air and water quality, recharge groundwater aquifers, and create fish and wildlife habitat on private forest lands and farm lands. This provides meaningful benefits to all Mainers. The Nature Conservancy is grateful for Representative Michaud's vote for the bipartisan Farm Bill."

A link to a summary of the Farm Bill can be found here.


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