Senate overwhelmingly approves Jackson rural economic task force bill
AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill by Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson, of Allagash, to establish a rural economic task force in an initial vote of 33-1 on Tuesday.
LD 1747, “Resolve, To Establish a Task Force To Examine Agricultural Issues,” as amended, would assemble a group of lawmakers and experts to address agricultural issues and barriers to economic prosperity in rural parts of the state.
“Maine’s natural assets have long provided significant economic benefits for the entire state. However, there are many barriers in the rural parts of the state that are holding us back from really growing these traditional industries, such as blueberries, potatoes, and forest products,” said Sen. Jackson. “I am confident that this Task Force can explore how the state can support these vital industries and create economic opportunity in rural Maine.”
The Task Force would examine challenges relating to investment and development, workforce training and labor shortages, as well as identifying marketing and branding opportunities. It would also examine how innovation, infrastructure and technology may play a role in long-term, sustainable rural success.
This Task Force membership would include representatives from the following industries: blueberry, dairy, potato, aquaculture, and small fruit or vegetables. It would also include representatives from the Agricultural Council of Maine, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Professional Logging Contractors of Maine; Maine Woodland Owners, Maine Farm Bureau, a national food retailer, an international trade expert, and an economist from the University of Maine.
LD 1747 will now head to the floor of the House for an initial vote.