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Environment and Outdoors

Chellie Pingree, USDA undersecretary tout funding to help Maine farmers mitigate climate change

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Murray Carpenter
/
Maine Public
Chellie Pingree (seventh from right) and Jenny Lester Moffitt (fifth from right) at an event in Brunswick on Monday.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine's 1st District and USDA undersecretary Jenny Lester Moffitt met with farmers in Brunswick on Monday to talk about $2 billion in new USDA funding for farmers, ways to streamline the paperwork associated with federal funds and the effects of climate change on Maine agriculture.

Crystal Spring Community Farm manager Seth Kroeck says in his 20 years on the farm, the growing season has expanded by almost a month, dry stretches are more frequent and the rain that does fall tends to come in heavier events that are harder on the crops and the soil.

"Weather has always been a huge factor in farming, but it's getting much more volatile, and much harder to deal with," he says.

Pingree says some of the new funds from the USDA, announced June 1, will support organic farming practices that can mitigate the climate impacts on agriculture and help farmers adapt.

Moffitt says climate change is integrated into all of USDA's programming, as is equity.

"We're looking to the future, and the future is a world with changing climate, and so making sure that we're bringing that into our programming, that we're bringing in climate and carbon sequestration and mitigation practices as well as adaptation practices into all of our programming, but also equity and making sure that we do not leave communities behind as we move forward," Moffitt says.

Supporters say the program, known as the Food System Transformation framework, will also aim to make food supply chains more resilient and reduce the dominance of huge agribusiness corporations.