Contacts: Amy Higgins, (207) 287-2735
Jeanne Curran, (207) 287-3156
Merger of New Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Under Way
(June 6, 2012)
AUGUSTA, Maine – As the merger of the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation gets under way, a series of public stakeholder meetings has been scheduled to start this month. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Department of Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley encourage Mainers to participate in the public forums which are designed to gather suggestions, comments and ideas about the merger process.
Information about the meetings and the merger process can be found at a new, collaborative website that also includes an email address for comments. The new website can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/ACFMerger
The first of four public forums will be held at the University of Maine at Orono on June 22 which will be followed by a meeting in Augusta on June 26. Details regarding two additional meetings in Northern and Western Maine will be available soon on the merger website, which will be updated regularly.
Under legislation passed during the 125th Legislative Session, the new Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (MDACF) will be formed effective August 30, 2012. Work on the merger is well in process, according to the commissioners of both departments.
“Input from the Maine people who derive their livelihood from the farmland, forest and outdoor recreation sectors is critical guidance as we move ahead with the details creating the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Starting at the University of Maine on June 22, all those who are interested are encouraged to offer their suggestions that will improve our delivery of important programs for all those vested in land-based natural resources.”
“As our two departments increase their interactions, many of the institutional barriers are naturally falling away,” said Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley. “The merger is sort of like the rural Mainer who harvests timber in the winter, plants and harvests crops during the growing season, tends to the wildlife and enjoys the nearby trails and streams.
“It all fits into Maine’s rural quality of place and should revitalize our natural resource economy as well,” Commissioner Beardsley said.
The new department will have 732 full-time and seasonal employees and have a budget of $96.5 million. It will be organized into seven divisions.
For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, go to: http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/index.shtml
For more information about the Maine Department of Conservation, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc