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Governor Baldacci announces Robert W. Spear as nominee for Department of Agriculture
January 29, 2003
Contact: Lee Umphrey 287-2531
For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA -- Governor John E. Baldacci announced Wednesday that he was nominating Robert W. Spear to continue as commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.
Spear, who lives in Nobleboro, has led the Department since 1999. He served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1990 to 1998. Since graduating from the University of Maine in 1965, he has worked at and run Spear Farms, Inc., a family-owned dairy and vegetable farm.
“Bob’s experience at the Department and the Legislature, and his years of leadership in the farm community makes this an easy reappointment,” Governor Baldacci said. “I look forward to working with Bob to find solutions to the challenges facing Maine agriculture.”
Spear said that his immediate priority would be to provide short-term relief for Maine’s dairy farmers. “We’ve got legislation we’re working on to make emergency payments but it is essential that all sides cooperate in designing a strategy to provide long-term stability for Maine’s dairy farmers and processors,” he said.
Farming provides many benefits for Maine. First and foremost farmers provide locally grown and nutritious food. Agriculture is the cornerstone of much of rural Maine -- its economy and its community. And there is open space for habitat and recreation.
“The best way to way to ensure that all Mainers will continue to enjoy those benefits is to keep farming profitable and that will keep families on working farms,” Spear said.
The Department is the State’s lead agency dealing with all aspects of the food system from the field to the table. Its mission is to foster opportunities for the agriculture community while promoting the stewardship of Maine’s natural resources. With an annual budget of $24 million and 160 employees, the Department houses programs as varied as animal welfare, weights and measures, and certification of seed potatoes.
"These are demanding times and experience matters. I need people who know budgets,” Governor Baldacci said. “Performance is key and Bob has delivered, whether Senior FarmShare for the elderly, a nutrient management program for dairy farmers, or assistance for farmers who need to irrigate. I look forward to even more from his Department during the next four years.”
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