Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
Maine is home to 7,600 farms of all sizes, scales, and agricultural practices. Aging infrastructure has hindered the ability of some of Maine's farmers and food processors to meet the growing demand for local food. Additionally, the pandemic exacerbated the situation, with restaurants, schools, and other food service institutions closing and adjusting or eliminating food services. With our farmers and food processors suddenly losing some of their biggest wholesale markets, farms and food businesses were forced to rapidly pivot to find new customers for their products. These adaptations often involved unanticipated costs.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry is designing a new Maine Agriculture, Food & Forest Products Investment Fund to stabilize and expand Maine's farming, food, and forestry industries in the wake of the pandemic. This planning work involves completing a strategic assessment to identify focus areas for the fund and recruiting an advisory board to assist the with oversight of the fund.
As part of the supplemental budget bill passed in February 2023 (public law 2023, chapter 3), funds for contracted facilitation services were reallocated to extend the Small Business Health Insurance Premium Support program.