MESAS released the following statement today in conjunction with the President signing the Agriculture Act of 2014 (Farm Bill)
The Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS) sees passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) as the next step in a long effort to ensure family farms in Maine and New England receive the support and assistance they need to be sustainable and profitable in a global food system. For the past two years, MESAS has joined with New England Farmers Union in Washington DC Farmer Fly-ins to help educate our representatives about the priorities specific to farms and consumers in our state and region. With provisions to expand access to local foods through additional support for farmers markets and the establishment of food hubs, the Farm Bill begins to address the issues that are most important to Maine producers. However, the Bill did not go far enough to support Maine’s Dairy Industry or to level the playing field with producers from other parts of the Country.
While this bill is not perfect it does recognize the complexity of the food system in a region like New England by offering research, marketing, and value added incentives to producers while also providing programs to ensure consumers have access to local foods through nutrition and institutional programs. The Bill also retains Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) which ensures consumers will know the source of their food.
The 2014 Farm Bill includes support for conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) that assists farmers in implementing conservation programs on their land. Direct payment to farms has been replaced by crop insurance support that recognizes the needs of diversified producers. The investment in land conservation programs will help keep farmland in production and provide a tool for farm families to transition their farm to the next generation.
MESAS works on behalf of all producers in Maine helping them capture a larger portion of the consumer food dollar by developing technologies and infrastructure that reduce the cost of inputs while promoting programs and projects that add value to farm products. In short, MESAS is committed to a sustainable farm system in Maine. For more information visit our website at www.mesas.org.