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August 09, 2018

In Exeter, King Highlights Need for Rural Broadband to Fuel Agricultural Innovation

EXETER, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King met with agricultural leaders in Exeter to discuss issues relating to the 2018 Farm Bill, precision agriculture, and efforts to innovate. Senator King visited Crane Brothers Farm, a third generation family-farm, as well as Exeter Agri-Energy EAE, a renewable energy company that produces heat, electricity, fertilizer, and cow bedding through a unique process involving plant, food, and animal waste.

“From precision agriculture to cutting-edge renewable energy techniques, Maine farmers are always pushing to innovate,” said Senator King. “But without affordable, high-speed broadband, our agricultural leaders are working without one of the most important tools in the toolkit. Maine farmers work hard every day to find better, more efficient ways to feed our state – we should make sure they have every resource they need to succeed.”

Senator King has been a strong advocate for Maine farmers, and in June, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill with a number of King-backed provisions to support innovation and create new opportunities for the Maine’s agricultural communities. One of these provisions would modernize rural broadband programs, which was specifically discussed during Senator King’s visit to Crane Brothers Farm. Another King-supported provision included in the legislation creates permanent mandatory funding to help educate and train beginning farmers and ranchers. The importance of bringing young people into farming was also discussed during Senator King’s visit to Crane Brothers Farm; one of the farm’s proprietors, Ryan Crane, was named Young Farmer of the Year in 2016 by the Maine Potato Board.

Exeter Agri-Energy EAE utilizes an anaerobic digestion system at Stonyvale Farm in Exeter, which produces energy, fertilizer and animal bedding. The system was funded in part by a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Guaranteed Loan, as well as a REAP grant, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The system is a closed loop, resulting in zero waste and extremely low environmental impact, and produces savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

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