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Environment and Outdoors

Report: Maine's Farmland Is Shrinking

Mark Vogelzang
Maine Public file
Cows on Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport in 2017.

The latest agriculture census released last month found that Maine lost 10 percent of its farmland from 2012-2017 — about 146,000 acres worth. The number of farms also declined by nearly 600.

Ellen Sabina of Maine Farmland Trust says the findings heighten the urgency around protecting state agriculture.

“We as consumers and people who care about Maine’s farm economy can best help by protecting farmland, by saving that land base, that will be the base for growing the agricultural economy in Maine,” she says. “As our food system shifts to a more regional system in the future, we need this land base. It’s what’s going to feed us.”

Sabina says one of the best ways to preserve existing farmland is through conservation easements. She says farmers also need resources to create robust businesses.

The census found that the average net income for Maine farms has declined from about $20,000 a year to under $17,000.