The most important membership benefit of the Maine Farm Bureau is one that is sometimes forgotten. Maine Farm Bureau is the “voice of agriculture.” The main purpose of the organization is to lobby for issues important to farmers and landowners. Maine Farm Bureau was formed to analyze problems and implement solutions and to be the farmer’s voice on issues important to Maine’s rural families.
The process of reviewing bills, determining a position, and monitoring the progress of these bills is one that carries through the entire legislative session each year. During the legislative session, our lobbyist goes to the State House every day and reviews every single bill that goes through the Legislature. This year, there were about 1,800 different bills. From these it is determined which bills involve agriculture, forestry, or rural Maine issues. These bills are brought to the Maine Farm Bureau State Legislative and Forestry Committee. Clark Granger, Chairman of the Forestry Committee, explains the process of this committee: “The Maine Farm Bureau Legislative/ Forestry Committee is the vehicle through which farmers' needs are translated into action. This committee is actually two committees meeting jointly several times a year during the legislative session to review proposed bills which may affect farmers, and to take positions on those bills where warranted. Committee members are generally chairs of Legislative or Forestry Committees in their home counties, assuring a broad representation of Farm Bureau members from across the state.
When deciding whether to support or oppose legislation, the Committee is guided by resolutions which originated at the grass roots level in local Farm Bureau county annual meetings, and which were subsequently passed by voting delegates at state Farm Bureau annual meetings. All positions taken on bills must be consistent with these state resolutions. Actions by the Committee on bills are subsequently reviewed by the State Board of Directors to assure consensus, and then the Farm Bureau position on each bill is presented in oral or written testimony by Maine Farm Bureau's Executive Secretary or by individual farmers on behalf of Maine Farm Bureau. Our testimony is generally very highly regarded by legislators who recognize MFB as the voice of the Maine farming community.
The Maine Farm Bureau Legislative/Forestry Committee also invites individual legislators and members of the Executive Branch of Maine state government to our meetings to help establish and maintain a personal working relationship with government decision makers, and to directly express Farm Bureau positions or concerns on issues important to Maine farmers. Truly, the Farm Bureau Legislative/Forestry Committee exists to assure that the voice and concerns of the individual Maine farmer are heard loudly and clearly by the decision makers in Augusta.” The Committee reviewed 110 bills this year.
If you have an issue that you would like to see addressed – or if there is a bill you would like to find more information about, contact Jon Olson, Maine Farm Bureau’s lobbyist, or see your county’s page for a list of legislators in your area.