Maine farmers to decide agriculture policies at three-day event
Maine Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting
to be held November 8-10 in Freeport
Augusta, ME (November 5, 2014) - Hosted by Cumberland County Farm Bureau, the Maine Farm Bureau will hold its 63rd Annual Meeting beginning Saturday, November 8, through Monday, November 10, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Freeport. Farmers from around the state will convene to discuss policies affecting Maine's agriculture industry, including upcoming legislative bills. Representatives from the media are invited to attend.
Once a year, members of the Maine Farm Bureau meet to discuss and set policies for the upcoming year. Maine Farm Bureau is unlike most organizations in the state, because policies are not set by its director or Board, but are instead decided by its members at the county Farm Bureau level and are brought as resolutions for discussion and vote at the state annual meeting. Last year, this grassroots process resulted in Maine Farm Bureau's change-of-position on the GMO-labeling bill, and the organization ultimately supported the bill in the last legislative session. This year, farmers will be discussing several issues critical to Maine's farming industry and property rights protection. For example, there is a resolution to increase the ConnectME budget from $1 million to $5 million to help provide high-speed Internet to farms in rural areas. Farmers will also discuss protecting property rights by requiring that any drones that go over farms require written permission by the farmers.
According to Jon Olson, Executive Secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau, "This is truly a grassroots process. Neither the Board of Directors nor I decide the Maine Farm Bureau's positions for the upcoming year, instead members propose resolutions that are discussed in an open forum and are voted on at the Annual Meeting. This meeting establishes which bills Maine Farm Bureau will support in the upcoming legislative session."
The Maine Farm Bureau's Annual Meeting also serves as an opportunity for farmers to learn about the latest innovations in agriculture. On November 8, attendees will tour three farms focused on covered agriculture and year-round production: Olivia's Garden in New Gloucester; Cozy Acres in North Yarmouth; and Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport. There will also be a tour of the Cold River Distillery in Freeport, which produces vodka from Maine potatoes.
On November 9, Lisa Turner from Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport will moderate a discussion with Maine Food Strategy about strengthening Maine's farming, fishing and food economy. Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation Commissioner, Walt Whitcomb, will provide an update on the state's efforts to support Maine agriculture. At the banquet that evening, Lisa Webster from North Star Sheep Farm in Windham will be the keynote speaker focusing on building a business and reaching regional markets.
On Monday, November 10, county resolutions will be presented, discussed and voted on by Maine Farm Bureau members from approximately 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.
An exhibit of photographs documenting the diversity of Maine farmers by writer and photographer David Owen will be on display during the event.
For more information and for reservations, go to: http://www.mainefarmbureau.com/calendar/event/119