March 13, 2012
309 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
CONTACT: Nancy E. Smith
Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
Neither for nor Against LD 1830,
“An Act to Establish the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry”
March 13, 2012
Senator Sherman, Representative Edgecomb, and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit organization working at the intersection of economic development, land conservation, and community revitalization.
I am sorry that previous commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives from attending today’s public hearing.
I want to raise an important concern with this legislation. Because the mission of the new department has been greatly simplified from those of the current departments, the guiding principles should reflect all the values of Maine’s natural resources. I would specifically recommend that the first principle be edited as such, “A. Forestry, farming, conservation, public lands and other natural resource-based
economic activity are important to the State's economy and quality of life;
I also suggest that additional principles be added to balance of importance of economic development with food security, conservation, and other core values Mainers place on the natural and working landscape.
The concept of merging natural resource departments is not new. There are real challenges and opportunities, as I’m sure you will hear today. In my professional experience as both a farmer and a forester, I believe this could work, if it is done well. It is encouraging that the motivation behind this proposal seems to be greater collaboration and efficiency, rather than cost savings. I hope that the savings identified in this bill are redirected to the new department.
Thank you for this opportunity to weigh in on this important issue. Please contact me if I can be of assistance in your efforts on this bill.