AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, Governor Janet Mills signed legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to help Maine farmers respond to extreme weather conditions and support the state’s agricultural economy.
LD 1998, “An Act To Establish a Fund for Farmers Adversely Affected by Drought Conditions” establishes a grant program that Maine farmers can access to weather extreme conditions. President Jackson amended the original proposal to ensure that farms in unorganized territories will have improved access to water as well.
“Maine farmers have always led the way on innovation and adapting to change — it’s part of why our agricultural sector has long been a sustaining part of Maine’s culture and economy. This grant program will help them continue to innovate and thrive, even in the face of extreme weather conditions like drought,” said President Jackson. “Maine’s farms can get the support they need to improve access to water and irrigation and bounce back from hard years caused by drought. This is a win for all of Maine’s agricultural communities and will help future generations looking to carry on the legacy of our state’s farms.”
In 2021, many potato farmers in Aroostook County experienced an impressive crop yield, outperforming previous years by as much as 20 percent. However, this is not representative of the entire industry and does not reflect the impact of extreme weather conditions in recent years. Farms in regions of the state experiencing prolonged drought took enormous hits to their yield and overall profits.
In 2020, drought conditions experienced statewide meant the total potato yield for the state underperformed the five-year average by nearly 15 percent. These losses amount to hundreds of dollars per acre.
LD 1998 takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.