Agriculture has a huge historic and cultural significance to the State of Maine. From our first settlers to the current generation of young agricultural entrepreneurs, Maine would not be what it is today without its generations of agricultural producers. Building upon the successes of this rich tradition, Maine is experiencing an exciting agricultural renaissance that is creating real opportunities for rural economic development.
Today more than 8,000 farms are working over 1.45 million acres of land and providing over $1 billion in economic activity. We are the nation’s largest producer of wild blueberries and brown eggs, and we have earned global recognition for producing the highest quality milk, cheeses, potatoes, apples, produce, maple syrup, and livestock.
To ensure the future strength and vitality of our agriculture industry, our farmers need assurances that they will not be subject to unnecessary and inappropriate regulatory burdens. Farmers also need access to broadband if they are to be able to operate their businesses efficiently and effectively – from selling products online to accessing critical information. Passing a reasonable and well balanced Farm Bill that takes into consideration the needs of each region of the country is essential, and I am working hard to ensure that all Maine farmers – from small and mid-sized operations to large commodity producers – are at the table to create sound agricultural policy.
Accompanying the abundance of produce grown in and on Maine soil is the bounty harvested from the waters of the Gulf of Maine. From our heritage in cod and other groundfish, to the iconic and booming lobster fishery and the nascent aquaculture industry, we have much to be proud of while we seek new opportunities and sustain current success. I believe we need to continue to facilitate cutting-edge science to better understand, anticipate, and adapt to changes to the marine ecosystem, help the seafood industry find and grow new markets, and continue to innovate new ways to ensure that future generations of people in Maine can thrive and make their livelihoods on the water.