NEW LAWS FOR 2021
MAINE FARM BUREAU REQUESTED LEGISLATION BECOMES LAW
An Act Regarding the Production and Sale of Birch Syrup and Birch Syrup Products On May 5, 2021, Governor Mills signed into law legislation that allows birch syrup to be sold commercially in Maine. Young Farmer Committee member Max Couture brought this idea forward as a resolution, which became Farm Bureau policy at the 2020 virtual annual meeting. Our great thanks to Representative MaryAnne Kinney who sponsored the bill, which was passed as emergency legislation, taking effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature. Let us know how much birch syrup you sell this year!
An Act To Prohibit Shelf-stable Products from Being Sold as Cider and To Amend the Definition for Those Products That Are Heated Our great thanks to Senator Russell Black for sponsoring this important bill which eliminates consumer confusion. Any cider sold in Maine must now be refrigerated, tasting how Mainers expect cider to taste. The bill was signed into law on June 8, 2021 and will take effect 90 days after adjournment.
LEGISLATION SUPPORTED BY MAINE FARM BUREAU BECOMES LAW
An Act To Provide That a Forestry Operation That Conforms to Accepted Practices May Not Be Declared a Nuisance This resolve directs the Director of the Maine Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to convene a group of stakeholders, including, but not limited to, organizations representing municipalities, family woodland owners, logging contractors, farmers, outdoor recreation and environmental interests and consulting foresters who work in multiple municipalities, to review and assess the law in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 12, section 8869, subsection 8 and the corresponding process relating to a municipal proposal to adopt or amend a timber harvesting ordinance. The director shall report the findings and recommendations of the stakeholder group, including suggested legislation, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by December 15, 2021. The joint standing committee may submit a bill to the 130th Legislature relating to the subject matter of the report.
An Act To Improve the Laws Governing Hemp by Bringing Them into Compliance with Federal Law This law brings the laws governing hemp into compliance with the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 and the United States Department of Agriculture’s regulations in 7 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 990.
An Act To Create the Maine Forestry Operations Cleanup and Response Fund This fund allows the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to use funds to mitigate and remediate water quality violations that result from timber harvesting activities and that require immediate action to prevent or minimize further damage to waters.
An Act To Give the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Rule-making Authority To Establish a Bear Season Framework and Bag Limits Maine Farm Bureau members supported this legislation, as it would be beneficial to wild blueberries producers and farmers who use bees to protect their crops. With the number of hunters in decline, existing hunters need more opportunities to manage the bear population.
An Act Regarding Nuisance Beavers This law allows farmers to remove or dispose of a nuisance beaver, which previously was a Class E crime. This was signed by Governor Mills on May 25, 2021 as emergency legislation and took effect immediately.
An Act To Establish a Working Farmland Access and Protection Program within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and a Working Farmland Access and Protection Fund within the Land for Maine’s Future Program This law establishes the Maine Working Farmland Access and Protection Program within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to strengthen the alignment between the department’s farmland conservation goals and the Land for Maine’s Future program. This law establishes the Maine Working Farmland Access and Protection Fund within the Land for Maine’s Future program for farmland protection projects. The fund is administered by the Land for Maine’s Future Board in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
An Act To Repeal the Requirement To Obtain a Permit before Hunting with a Noise Suppression Device Maine Farm Bureau members voted to support this bill, as many farmers must remove invasive wildlife at night. Allowing for the use of a noise suppression device will certainly help to keep the peace with neighbors!
An Act To Improve Turkey Tagging The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will evaluate the possibility of creating an electronic tagging system and will report back to the Legislature in early 2022.
An Act To Amend the Laws Banning Polystyrene Foam To Exclude Packaging for Meat, Poultry, Fish, Seafood and Eggs Law that was enacted during the 129th Legislature prohibited the processing, preparation, sale or provision of food or beverages by certain establishments in or on a polystyrene foam disposable food service container. This emergency legislation, amends the definition of “disposable food service container” to exclude service ware used to contain, transport or otherwise package raw, uncooked or butchered meat, poultry, fish, seafood or eggs until July 1, 2025.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry shall develop
a comprehensive research study plan to identify and aid farmers who are or may be affected by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination. The department shall develop the study plan in consultation with research partners, including, but not limited to, the University of Maine; the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; the Department of Environmental Protection; and the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In developing the study plan, the department may consult with a statewide organization working to protect the public and the environment from toxic chemicals and a statewide organization representing organic gardeners and farmers. The study plan must include research topic areas that may include alternative agricultural business planning including energy production and alternative cropping systems, study needs, possible roles of state agencies and research collaborators to conduct the work, proposed time frames and a proposed budget and target sources of funding for implementing the plan. The department shall submit a report regarding the comprehensive research study plan, including findings and recommendations, to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry by February 1, 2022.
LEGISLATION MONITORED BY MAINE FARM BUREAU BECOMES LAW
An Act To Improve Livestock and Poultry Preparation This law makes technical changes to the laws governing preparation of livestock and poultry products for human consumption. It defines “amenable species” as a species of exotic animal, as defined by federal law, the anatomy and biology of which are substantially the same as an animal that is currently inspected, and it includes amenable species under the laws governing voluntary inspections. It removes the requirement that funds reimbursed under the laws governing preparation of livestock and poultry products for human consumption be deposited in the General Fund as undedicated revenue. It also prohibits a person from selling, transporting, offering for sale or transportation or receiving for transportation any carcasses of horses, mules or other equines or parts of these carcasses or the meat or meat food products of these carcasses.
An Act To Amend Maine’s Aquaculture Leasing and Licensing Statutes This law amends the aquaculture leasing and licensing statutes.
An Act To Provide the Option of Online or Telephonic Tagging of Harvested Big Game Animals This resolve directs the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to examine electronic tagging of big game animals and to take actions necessary to increase the number of big game animal registration stations to meet registration needs.
An Act To Limit the Use of Hydrofluorocarbons To Fight Climate Change This law prohibits the sale, lease, rent, installation or enter into commerce a product or equipment that uses or will use certain specified substances that are hydrofluorocarbons with high global warming potential for certain specified air conditioning, refrigeration, foam or aerosol propellant end uses.
An Act To Clarify All-terrain Vehicle Registration Requirements and Establish Regular Maintenance of Designated State-approved All-terrain Vehicle Trails This law makes numerous changes to the current ATV laws, including increasing the registration fee, defining antique ATV and limiting the weight and size of ATVs on state-approved ATV trails.
LEGISLATION OPPOSED BY MAINE FARM BUREAU BECOMES LAW
An Act To Assist in the Restoration of Atlantic Salmon Farm Bureau members felt this legislation unnecessarily increases established water quality standards to a burdensome level. This law eliminates restrictions for the total number of discharge licenses allowed to be issued for Class AA and Class A waters. It retains the requirement in current law that those discharges assist in the restoration of Atlantic salmon and will return the waters to a state that is closer to historically natural chemical quality.
An Act To Amend Maine’s Wildlife Laws Regarding Species of Special Concern Farm Bureau member opposed the idea of a only one public hearing to voice concerns about species that are proposed to be listed of “special concern.”
An Act To Improve the Animal Welfare Laws Farm Bureau members raised concerns that the language may be interpreted to allow the Commissioner to conscript farmers into housing animals and could be paid less than other animal professionals.
Resolve, Directing the Board of Pesticides Control To Prohibit the Use of Certain Neonicotinoids for Outdoor Residential Use This law prohibits the use of any product containing the active ingredient dinotefuran, clothianidin, imidacloprid or thiamethoxam used for application in outdoor residential landscapes such as on lawn, turf or ornamental vegetation. While agriculture is exempt from this prohibition, farm bureau members objected to the use of legislation to override the science-based finding of the Board of Pesticides Control. The BPC has opportunity for public comment at every meeting and was asked to investigate the impact of neonicotinoids in Maine. Circumventing the BPC is a dangerous practice that may have very negative consequences for farms in the future.
An Act To Prohibit the Use of Chlorpyrifos Farm Bureau members raised concerns that Christmas Tree growers and other commodities that utilize Chlorpyrifos products do not have an adequate alternative and will be negatively impacted by the ban.
An Act To Establish the Maine Healthy Soils Program Farm Bureau members opposed the creation of the program within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, as it would use tax dollars to duplicate research and programming that is already conducted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and implied that Maine’s farmers are not already using best soil management practices.
An Act To Protect Children from Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Farm Bureau members raised concerns about the negative impact banning all synthetic herbicides from school grounds. Farmers have grown weary from the unscientific attacks on synthetic products and are frustrated with legislation that attempts to dictate philosophy, rather than listening to experienced farmers that have been successful stewards of their land for generations. The final version of this law exempted farms that are adjacent to schools or host school farm tours. However, the banning of specific herbicides without a scientific basis is bad legislation.
An Act To Prohibit Hunting with a Bow within 100 Yards of a Building or Residence Farm Bureau members raised concerns that buildings that abut an adjacent property could interfere with a property owner’s right to hunt on his or her land.
Resolve, To Convene a Working Group To Develop Plans To Protect Maine’s Agricultural Lands When Siting Solar Arrays Farm Bureau members raised concerns about the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry making decisions about how their land is used, a decision that should be left to the land owner, not the government.
An Act To Amend the Membership Requirements of the Board of Pesticides Control Farm Bureau members raised concerns that the Board of Pesticides Control is a technical expertise board and that all those serving should have significant knowledge and experience with pesticide products to make the most informed and evidence-based decisions. This law eliminates the requirement that one of the 2 members appointed to represent the public must have practical experience and knowledge of methods of sustainable management of indoor or outdoor pests. The two public members must now have a demonstrated interest in environmental protection and may not have a financial interest in activities regulated by the board and may not be an individual who has been or is licensed, certified or given a permit in this State or any other state for activities regulated by the board.