Sen. Brenner introduces legislation to improve grant process for farmers

Posted: March 15, 2023 | Senator Brenner

AUGUSTA — Earlier today, Sen. Stacy Brenner, D-Scarborough, introduced a bill to improve the grant funding process for Maine farmers by transferring grant disbursement authority from the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF). LD 782, “An Act to Support Statewide Economic Opportunities Through Strategic Investments of Property and Funds, Including Emergency Relief Funds,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Sen. Stacy Brenner

“As a farmer, I understand and see first-hand the challenges that farmers face across the state,” Sen. Brenner said. “Ongoing and one-time grant opportunities are crucial to incentivizing innovation and supporting farms through staffing shortages and other economic difficulties. We want to help farmers have access to these important programs. This bill would help expand this access.”

Currently, DACF offers several grant programs, administered by DAFS, to assist Maine farmers, including the Agricultural Development Grant program and the Maine Farms for the Future program. Both programs aim to promote research and development in the agricultural industry by investing in farms and farmers. These investments work to increase the vitality of the industry in the long term. This legislation to support strategic investments in agriculture would provide more opportunities for farmers to access these grants. 

Deputy Commissioner of DACF Nancy McBrady also testified in favor of this bill: “The high level of capital investment necessary in agricultural businesses, coupled with the level of risk perceived by traditional lenders about agricultural investments, makes DACF grant and funding opportunities for Maine’s agricultural producers all the more vital.”

LD 782 faces further action in committee.