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Commissioner Says Federal Aid For Maine Agriculture, Forestry Programs Is Inadequate

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Susan Sharon
/
Maine Public File
Maine's Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says those three sectors have been underserved by the federal pandemic relief programs.

Maine's Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says those three sectors have been underserved by the federal pandemic relief programs.

“All of the programs that have come out of that have largely underserved our farmers and our farmers businesses,” said Commissioner Amanda Beal.

Beal told members of the legislature's Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee that state farmers have only received about $3 million in federal funds under the CARES Act, and she said that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has not allocated enough for natural resources-based sectors of the economy.

“Only 1.2 percent of all PPP funding in the country has gone to a combined bucket of agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. That’s not very much."

The CARES Act set aside billions for direct payments to farmers, but Beal says only potato and dairy crops are part of the program, with little set aside for those crops. Beal also says the feds have not given clear guidance about how funds can be used, and that significant additional federal aid is needed to help Maine farmers weather the recession caused by the Pandemic.

Updated 5:12 p.m. June 11, 2020