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Agriculture officials express concern for Maine farms

Friday, January 14, 2011

A farm official said about one-third of farmland in Maine will suffer within a decade when farmers die or retire.
A farm official said about one-third of farmland in Maine will suffer within a decade when farmers die or retire.

The top official of a group committed to strengthening Maine agriculture and farming said more than one-third of the state's farmland could undergo dramatic changes when the land's farmers retire or die within 10 years, according to published reports.

Of the state's 1.3 million acres, 400,000 will be unproductive farmland without a serious commitment to addressing the issue, according to John Piotti, executive director of Maine Farmland Trust. The Bangor Daily News reports he spoke during the 70th annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

"We need to protect that underlying land base," Piotti said. "If we don’t step in, a lot of that land will be lost to agricultural use."

Piotti said his organization already is taking action by kicking off a $50 million campaign that aspires to advocate for about 100,000 acres.

Maine's agricultural future has much potential but a critical component required is people devoting effort to the cause, the state's top agricultural official said.

"Maine is poised for an agricultural renaissance," said Seth Bradstreet, Maine’s agriculture commissioner. "But Maine needs support from landowners."

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