Strategic Plan

The Agricultural Council of Maine (AGCOM) provides a forum for all statewide agricultural organizations to meet and discuss how to move Maine food and farming forward.  Maine’s farmers, value-added food businesses, and Ag-services industries need the daily support of all Maine people to keep this vital part of our economy and our quality of life growing strong. 

STRATEGIC PLAN 2013 – 2020

As the world around us changes—from markets to climate to energy policy—our farm and food businesses must continuously adjust and adapt.  To succeed, we need to create new growth opportunities for Maine’s farmers and value-added food businesses.  The goals and policy priorities summarized here will move Maine agriculture forward and ultimately benefit the health and well-being of all Maine people.

I. Create Profitability in Farming

For most, farming in Maine is hard work for little financial gain.  This must change.  A primary objective is to increase total farm income by 5% per annum over the next decade with the target of a billion dollars by 2020.

Key priorities:

·        Develop new markets, locally and globally

·        Expand agricultural infrastructure and value-added food processing

·        Promote Maine agritourism

·        Improve efficiency from harvest to consumption

·        Support innovation in both technology and energy use

·        Create higher paying jobs in the food and farm sectors

II. Increase R&D Investment

Maine farms and food processors are poised to capitalize on unique competitive advantages in our region, such as available land and water resources, growth in farm numbers, and proximity to market.  To succeed, we must develop a long-range vision for state investment in agricultural R&D.

Key priorities:

·        Advocate for increased funding to the University of Maine via the Maine Economic Improvement Fund

·        Actively support university and legislative R&D initiatives

·        Promote industry leadership and support R&D opportunities with Maine Technology Institute (MTI) and other organizations

·        Advocate for reinvestment in crop and livestock research by the USDA

·        Support Cooperative Extension’s focus on the Maine Food System

III. Support the Next Generation

No point in the history of a family farm is more critical than succession.  Making the transition to new ownership and a younger generation poses a unique set of challenges.  We must foster programs that provide support and educational opportunities for the next generation of farmers.

Key priorities:

·        Develop strategies, training and programs that help smooth farm ownership transition

·        Promote access to farm business planning for new and existing farmers

·        Cultivate hands-on programs for entry-level farmers through existing agriculture and educational organizations

·        Support youth agricultural education and farm connections

IV. Connect Local Food with Healthy Eating

Local farmers and food processors play an essential role in providing Maine people with the high-quality food necessary for a healthy diet.  We believe that building connections between farmers and consumers is key to a healthier future for Maine.

Key priorities:

·        Promote high quality standards through food safety training and verification programs

·        Support a strong and active food science and human nutrition presence at the University of Maine

·        Support research and promote nutritional benefits of Maine-grown products

·        Support nutrition programs that connect consumers and farmers 

V. Lead, Advocate & Protect Maine’s Farm Resources

Maine’s productive farmland and water resources are the foundation of our agriculture, today and tomorrow.  We all have a vested interest in protecting these critical natural resources.  We must educate the public that farmers practice land and water stewardship every day.

Key priorities:

·        Encourage development of innovative financial tools to protect farmland for the future

·        Improve and revise the Farm and Open Space Tax Law to make farm infrastructure eligible for tax abatement

·        Amend small business laws to insure inclusion of farms

·        Protect Maine’s water resources, ensuring availability for farm use in crop, livestock, and aquaculture production.

·        Continue to support successful land and water conservation practices for producers

·        Ensure that water for agriculture remains a priority use as enacted in Maine law