Federal bill could help Maine farmers

There are many environmental issues being discussed in Augusta.  Specifically, finding solutions to the devastating PFAS contamination that is wide-spread throughout the state.  The impact these chemicals on the farming community is astronomical.  My colleagues and I are working to find a solution to the issue.  However, there is some legislation pending at federal level that I wanted to highlight that I thought the farming community would be interested in, called the Growing Climate Solutions Act.

Maine’s agricultural industries have made a resurgence in recent years, supporting about $800 billion of economic activity each year. This has been largely fostered by innovative programs, like Mainers Feeding Mainers, which seeks to meet 30% of our state’s food needs locally by 2030, and programs like the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, which allocated $20 million to support Maine farmers.

But it’s hardly all sunshine and rainbows for our state’s growers. The latest agricultural census reported that Maine lost 573 farms, about 10% of its farmland, between 2012 and 2017. The average income per farm fell nearly 16% during the same time.

That’s why it is encouraging to see the growing bipartisan support in Congress for the Growing Climate Solutions Act. This pragmatic bill would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create programs to help farmers, ranchers and foresters access voluntary carbon credit markets.

These markets allow landowners to generate revenue for employing sustainable agricultural practices — often which they already use. That creates a real “win-win.” Land use is among the most effective ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere, which improves air, water and land quality. And it provides a valuable revenue stream that farmers need — especially when growing crops and livestock is a losing business model for many.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act will provide a hand up, not a handout, for Maine’s farmers and foresters. I thank U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who has been a strong champion of Maine agricultural industry, for supporting this important piece of legislation and encourage her to continue working with her colleagues in the House to get it passed and signed into law.

State Rep. MaryAnne Kinney

Knox

Offshore wind development should spare Sears Island

Timber cruiser, land surveyor, truck farmer, gardener, landscaper, caretaker, hunting guide, insurance salesman, teacher and storyteller are the occupations that my father worked hard at to support his family on Islesboro. He plainly knew hard work. However, as tight as money was sometimes, he never faltered in his opposition to the first onslaught of possible development on Sears Island, which was an oil refinery in the 1970s. This industrial development  proposal  was followed over the years by proposals for a nuclear power plant, LNG, LPG, a deepwater port, and I am probably missing something.

My dad was  a very shy man; nonetheless, he stood up in a big public gathering and stated his truth, which was that what we have here in Penobscot Bay where fishing and yachting, seasonal visitors and year-round farmers and rural folk thrive, is its own best thing. The violation of the ecosystem and our rural seagoing community that any major industrial development would bring would be final.

The controversy over whether the proposed staging area for offshore wind should be located at Mack Point or on the 300 acres of Sears Island that have not been protected permanently from development has brought up a deeper issue. That is the long-held desire by some industrialists and government officials to develop a deepwater port in this area. I refer you back to my father’s position.

Mack Point is the obvious place for the OSW staging area, and the required cleanup of antiquated debris that would need to be removed from Mack Point would be an advantage to the whole area, allow for a good staging area for the work, which is vital to our future energy needs, and yet allow Sears Island to remain as the undisputed essential wild area that it is. Unless the hidden agenda is to get a foot in the door for a big deepwater port.

Please do consider what a port like this would destroy: Quiet, nighttime stars, habitat for plants and animals and fish and tourists and yachters and us crusty coastal Mainers, the lobster, shellfish and finfish fisheries, dollars from the people who come to just be comforted and uplifted by the beauty and peace of our place on earth. I could go on.

We really do need to get energy from the wind and the sun, and to do that there is some industry required. However, it need not be at the sacrifice of our way of life and the intact ecosystem that supports it.

Sue Hatch

Islesboro

City not walking its talk

For a town that says it is committed to taking action against climate change, it is greatly disheartening that the City Council has pushed for the Nordic Aquafarms project, which will use tremendous amounts of highly polluting diesel fuel just to push water through its plants. Will Belfast soon no longer be the best city to live in Maine?

Reah Janise Kauffman

Belfast