Maine’s Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal joins our panel to discuss how the pandemic has affected Maine’s agriculture industry, and what is being done to help farms across the state get through the crisis. We’ll also hear from a number of farmers on how they have adapted to the challenges, and what the future outlook is for agriculture in Maine.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

This is the first segment of a special two-hour Maine Calling, as we continue to cover the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the people of Maine. For the second segment, click here.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

The explosive growth in demand for hemp is propelling this crop to new importance in the state.  We’ll hear from hemp farmers and learn about the potential of hemp to impact Maine’s economy.

Maine Farmland Trust

Farming in Maine is in transition. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, in the five years from 2012-2017, Maine lost 10 percent of its farmland and 573 farms. On the other hand, Maine has more young farmers per capita than just about any other state. Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal is responsible for helping grow and promote agriculture in Maine. Beal has recently been in the news pushing to extend federal aid to members of Maine’s wild blueberry industry. She’s also requested that the federal government finalize its proposed “origin of livestock” standards for organic dairy farms. We’ll discuss the other initiatives Beal is engaged with and the priorities of the Mills’ administration.

The 30th Annual Open Farm Day takes place on July 28, and more than 130 farms are participating. Our panel discusses statewide farming and agricultural community trends and news.

This is part of Maine Calling’s yearlong focus on statewide rural issues.

Broadcasting from the floor of the Augusta Civic Center at the annual State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show, we’ll learn about the important role agriculture plays in the Maine economy and the issues facing farmers as they seek new markets and better crop yields.

Misty Meadows Farms in Clinton prepares for the Farm Days trade show Thur., Aug. 23 & Fri., Aug. 24.

A working farm in Clinton is hosting a two day Agricultural Trade Show through tomorrow. Organizers say Maine Farms Days at Misty Meadows Farm is designed to give the public and farmers the opportunity to visit a working farm, see the operation of new equipment and technology and experience different areas of agriculture.

Dale Finseth, Executive Director of the Kennebec Soil and Water Conversation District, says the event dates back to at least 1969. He says it’s his understanding that the event initially focused on dairy farms and farmers.

Retiring to the Farm

May 8, 2017

A retired professor lives off the grid at a self-sufficient farm and helps preserve wildlife habitat. Why did he choose to live such a remote and back-to-the-land lifestyle, and how does he pull it off? He addresses everything from white-tailed deer habitat to canning and preserving to solar energy.

Guest:  Prof. John Twomey, retired University of Massachusetts professor, living in Montville. He has written a book about  his experience: Retiring To, Not From: Intimate Details of Life on a Remote Farm in Maine.

Innovative Solutions for Maine Farmers

Apr 25, 2017

As Maine’s agriculture and food sector expands, farmers and small business owners are facing practical challenges, including lack of access to capital and legal services.  We’ll look at new creative solutions designed to help this sector grow and remain sustainable for years to come.

Guests: Sam May, Co-Founder, Maine Harvest Credit Project

Amanda Beal, President and CEO, Maine Farmland Trust

Growing Local video still

Maine Public TV Air Times:
Thur., March 23 at 10:00 pm
Sat., March 25 at 11:00 am

While "buying local" is on the rise, the stories in Growing Local make clear that small farms and access to locally produced food is not a sure thing.

For more viewing options and information about the production visit the film-maker's website.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making Maine farms hard-hit by the drought eligible for federal assistance.

The USDA has designated Androscoggin and Oxford counties as primary natural disaster areas because of the dry summer.

Growing Local production poster

Maine Public TV Air Time:
Sat., July 23 at 11:00 am

While "buying local" is on the rise, the stories in Growing Local make clear that small farms and access to locally produced food is not a sure thing.

In three short vignettes we meet the young farm couple Ben and Tayrn, who, on risky sweat-equity, have revitalized a famously fertile piece of farmland into a thriving community food hub; artisanal butcher Ben who helps us better understand how healthier, thoughtful meat production can be supported and sustained; and Richard and Adam, father and son organic dairy farmers struggling to keep their family farm going and in the family.

These poignant stories help us understand the interconnected fates of Maine's small farms, consumers and the local food movement.

A worker in the New Gloucester creamery
Jennifer Mitchell/MPBN

NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — Maine's food industry is in the midst of a transition. The saga of slow decline for family farms has shifted to a story about the potential for new market opportunities — particularly for those that are branded as high quality products from Maine.

Gina McCarthy (l.) U.S. Senator Angus King (r.)
Irwin Gratz/MPBN

The Environmental Protection Administration chief was in Maine this morning, trying to re-assure Maine's smaller farmers that a new, clean water rule won't affect them. But national farm groups are saying they don't buy it.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows that New England farm cash receipts for 2013 rose 4 percent over the previous year, led by top producers in Vermont and Maine.