Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in favor of LD 363, “An Act To Facilitate Local Food Production”

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine

in favor of LD 363,

An Act To Facilitate Local Food Production

March 22, 2011

Senator Sherman, Representative Edgecomb and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine (GSM) is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony at today’s Public Hearing.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which seek to grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. We believe that LD 363 fits that description and strongly urges the committee to support this legislation.

In particular, GSM strongly supports the directive to the Department of Agriculture to pursue ways of reducing the regulatory barriers to small scale food production in Maine. We realize that the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources is, in many instances, accountable to the USDA, and in this process we want to ensure that the state agriculture department's authority to oversee and enforce federal regulations is not put at risk. Given the broad scope of the bill and limited staffing in the department, perhaps the department should be required to focus on a few of the most challenging areas of oversight. It is important to balance the need to facilitate value-added processing with consumer safety – both are key to the viability of Maine's farmers.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. I would be happy to attend the work session if that would be helpful to the committee.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s support for LD 363.