Remembering the Belfast Broiler Festival

As a boy in the mid-'50s, one high point of our family's summer was our trip to Belfast for the Broiler Festival. The men turning the huge racks of chicken halves over the fire pits seemed godlike to me. I wonder if our city fathers foresee a Belfast Salmon Festival in future years. I have been wondering how the proposed salmon farm would compare with the broiler farm output at the peak of its production.

The scale of salmon production of the proposed Nordic Aquafarms facility is large, but the units in which the production is expressed (33,000 metric tons per year) are not familiar to us. Below, I compare the historical Waldo County chicken broiler production to the Nordic facility's proposed output.

In 1956, near the peak of broiler production, there were 186 farms producing broiler chickens in Waldo County. Total production that year was 12,500 metric tons, which is 38% of NAF's yearly target for salmon production. At that rate of production, it would have taken 490 farms to produce Nordic’s proposed 33,000 metric tons.

In other words, instead of 186 farms scattered all over Waldo County, Nordic proposes to put the equivalent of 490 chicken farms in one place, right on the Little River.

The buildings from one of the last of the broiler farms left over from that time exist on the north side of Route 3 as you drive out of town toward Augusta, just past the Belfast Curling Club. These buildings give an idea of the size of one of the contemporary broiler farms. The environmental impact of the operation of these broiler farms was spread out over the 853 square miles of the county.

Imagining the concentration of 490 of these farms on the proposed 56-acre Nordic site gives a comparison of the scale of the proposed salmon production. The feed inputs, housing and excrement outputs of the 186 farms growing broiler chickens in the 1950s were distributed around Waldo County. The proposed salmon facility would need to encompass the feeding and housing of the equivalent of 490 chicken farms at this one site: a monumental concentration of living organisms, waste disposal and mechanical systems.

I wonder whether proponents of the Nordic project have grasped this scale of production, of energy inputs, of feed inputs from all over the world: the equivalent of 490 broiler farms stacked one on top of another on a small site near the southern border of Belfast.

Sources: Saunders, Richard F., "Contract Broiler Growing in Maine," pp 9-12. Bulletin 571, May 1958. Maine Agricultural Station Experiment Station, University of Maine.

Table 3, p 10 gives # farms, birds/lot ; p 12 gives # of lots/year and weight of birds

(186 farms * 10,294 birds/lot  4 lots/farm year * 3.6 lbs/bird / 2200 lbs/mt = 12,532 mt/yr)

Eric Anderson


Bebb for selectman

I’m thrilled to offer my support to Breanna Pinkham Bebb for the Northport Board of Selectmen. As a Northport resident I’ve seen Bre’s enthusiasm and creativity in action many times, and it is infectious!

Bre’s commitment to community is huge. I first saw Bre in action through Our Town Belfast and her ability to bring people together around a cause — that’s a skill that’s sorely lacking in politics today, but something she excels at. We’ve attended Northport school board meetings together and she has a keen interest in making sure our children are safe, supported and have the tools they need to be successful. And she brings local government experience by having served on the Northport Planning Board for the last two years. With few free hours in the day, she still finds time to actively support Waldo County Woodshed.

Most importantly, Bre will bring fresh perspectives to the town's Board of Selectmen and help prepare Northport for the future and represent the community well.

Please join me in voting for Breanna Pinkham Bebb for the Northport Board of Selectmen April 14.

Todd Hall


Pass the Pine Tree Amendment

The Maine Energy and Natural Resources Committee is considering a proposed constitutional amendment (LD 489) beginning March 8. The amendment establishes our unequivocal right to clean water, and I urge you to express strong support to your representatives and senators.

Nothing can be more compelling — with this amendment we have the ability to enshrine the desire we share as Mainers for a healthy environment, in the form of an inalienable right, one that Montana and Pennsylvania have already affirmed. Maine can help lead the way to make this the law of the land, and we should.

We have seen time and time again how narrow business interests can succeed in circumventing, diluting, or outright demolishing the regulations designed to protect our environmental rights. Human health and the resilience of ecosystems inevitably deteriorate in the wake of such actions. We should not have to spend valuable time and energy re-litigating the same battles over our right "to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air and healthy ecosystems."

The bill articulates my expectation that the state, including each branch, agency and political subdivision, shall serve as trustee of the natural resources of Maine. To declare, in this unambiguous way, that we take our obligation seriously is the least we can do for our children and future generations.

Diane Oltarzewski


Supports Pine Tree Amendment

I am writing to support the passage of LD 489, an amendment to the state Constitution to guarantee all Mainers the right to clean air, water, and a healthy environment for generations to come.

Not only do all Mainers deserve to live in a clean environment, but our very identity and economy depend on these qualities. The government should not interfere with our basic right to clean air, clean water, and clean space. Ever.

The Pine Tree Amendment will ensure a healthy future for all humans and other inhabitants of Maine.

Cloe Chunn


Open letter to Nordic investors

Nordic Aquafarms' development team has likely informed you about the recent decision by the Belfast Zoning Board of Appeals to not hear the appeal. The Zoning Board of Appeals’ purpose is to create a mechanism for citizens to be heard in cases of alleged errors in any order, requirement, decision, or determination made in the permitting process.

Unfortunately for you, the investor, Nordic had an opportunity to take a step forward and push for the appeals board process to be completed right then and there. Instead, Nordic’s attorney spent quite some time arguing against due process. It made no sense. Why actively seek to delay this process?

Does Nordic think the record will magically get better for them in the future? You should know it can’t, and it won’t. The record is closed and will be the same now, or after a few months, or a few years — waiting for the courts to hear these concerns.

What did Nordic think was the worst thing that could happen if the appeal was properly heard? The appeal is simply to send the permits back to the Planning Board so that Nordic could provide the proper information to ensure that their design and consumption of resources have no fatal flaws. If there is no concern, why not just go through it and come out the other side with a full and complete permit?

Well, as an investor, you should know that as of now, Nordic has not provided adequate information to confirm or deny potential fatal design flaws with respect to available power, available water, access to the bay, dredging, invalidated outfall mixing, and numerous other concerns. Nordic’s actions to argue to delay the inevitable Zoning Board of Appeals hearings strongly suggests that they understand the fatal flaws more than the current information in the record shows.

Once a pandemic-stressed court system has time to hear the case, the intent of any Zoning Board of Appeals process will prevail in court and be returned to the exact place it was — as a Zoning Board of Appeals appeal. This delay tactic will do nothing but cost you, the investors, time and money.

Michael Lannan, P.E.

On behalf of Upstream Watch

Courage in unlikely places

J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Courage is found in unlikely places.”

Second District Congressman Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, put a face to that statement when he stood before his peers and voted to oppose the Justice in Policing Act of 2021.

Maine sheriffs recognize the undeniable need for ethics and transparency in law enforcement. Our citizens demand and deserve the accountability of all law enforcement professionals. No one wants this more than the overwhelming majority of police officers, deputies, chiefs, and sheriffs who carry out their commitment to serve with integrity every single day. Officers that make unethical choices cause devastating damage not only to those they’ve sworn to protect, but to those of us who wear a badge with honor and pride.

The Justice in Policing Act is flawed. While the intent was to create pathways toward rebuilding public trust, the bold stroke of eliminating qualified immunity would almost certainly cause ramifications that would in essence, cripple our public safety infrastructure. Rep. Golden did what many among us could not imagine. In the chambers of Congress, the young congressman stood up to a resounding expectation to follow political lines by doing the right thing. Representing the safest state in our country, Golden saw the importance of retaining qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity is a process that should be scrutinized and understood. Courts have long defined the criteria for “clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of what a reasonable person would have known” in such an unusual way that it’s difficult to hold an officer accountable even in the most serious cases. We need to be working together to better understand qualified immunity, not broadly eliminating a process that has an appropriate place in public safety when used properly.

Maine’s 16 county sheriffs represent different political parties, but we’ve come together to offer our deepest gratitude for the bold stance Rep. Golden took against significant pressure to vote with his party. We can only hope our Senate leaders recognize the tremendous decision that faces them next week, and follow Golden's lead.

Sheriff Eric Samson (Androscoggin County), Sheriff Shawn Gillen (Aroostook County), Sheriff Kevin Joyce (Cumberland County), Sheriff Scott Nichols (Franklin County), Sheriff Scott Kane (Hancock County), Sheriff Ken Mason (Kennebec County), Sheriff Tim Carroll (Knox County), Sheriff Todd Brackett (Lincoln County), Sheriff Chris Wainwright (Oxford County), Sheriff Troy Morton (Penobscot County), Sheriff Robert Young (Piscataquis County), Sheriff Joel Merry (Sagadahoc County), Sheriff Dale Lancaster (Somerset County), Sheriff Jeff Trafton (Waldo County), Sheriff Barry Curtis (Washington County), Sheriff William King (York County)