Last week, I told you about some of the bills we’ll be taking up in the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, on which I serve as Senate Chair. As I mentioned then, I also serve as Senate Chair of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee (ACF), so this week I’ll give you an update on what we’re doing there.

A wide variety of issues come before this committee, including bills related to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; agricultural development; agricultural fairs, products and marketing; animal control and welfare; harness racing; food policy; food safety; inspection and labeling; dairy industry; pest management and pesticides regulation; state parks, historic sites, public lands and submerged lands; Maine Land Use Planning Commission; geological surveying and mapping; Maine Forest Service; timber harvesting; industrial hemp; the Land for Maine’s Future program; and Baxter State Park.

There are a number of committees, boards and commissions that fall under our jurisdiction. My House co-chair, Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, is introducing a bill to review Maine Milk Commission rules related to producer margins. Rep. Bill Pluecker, I-Warren, has submitted two bills that would affect the Board of Pesticides Control. One would add a requirement that two board members have a dedicated interest in environmental protection, while the other would require the board to create and maintain a registry of landowners who wish to be notified when a neighbor is applying pesticides outdoors.

Rep. Danny Martin, D-Sinclair, has a bill in that would reduce the number of Maine Potato Board districts and make changes to the composition of that board. Rep. Robert Alley, D-Beals, is introducing legislation to increase the membership of the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission. Rep. Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, is introducing a bill that would allow the Governor to appoint more members to the Land Use Planning Commission. Finally, Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, has a bill tocreate the Water Resources Planning Committee, which would deal with issues related to water extraction.

Food labeling and rules related to food distribution are other issues that we deal with commonly on the committee. This year we’ll take up a bill introduced by Rep. Sawin Millett, R-Waterford, to allow dairy farmers to donate milk to food pantries. We’ll also take up a pair of food-labeling bills from Rep. Pluecker. One seeks tocreate more strict labeling rules for meat and poultry labeled as “Maine-made,” or bearing a certified “Maine” trademark; the other would require a commercial food producer with a retail location to provide a list of ingredients of each food and beverage item they have.

Another bill we’ll be considering is an emergency measure from Rep. Hickman, submitted in response to a recent rule change by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that requires stores to remove edible products containing the hemp derivative cannabidiol, better known as CBD. This rule change came after federal regulators indicated that the products couldn’t be sold in Maine until our hemp program receives federal approval. Rep. Hickman’s bill would better align Maine’s law with the federal law, and go into effect immediately after passage.

This is only a small sample of the total bills we’ll consider this session, but it gives you a good sense of the types of issues we’ll be taking up.

I am keeping an open mind to all proposed bills being considered by the committee. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about these bills or anything else, I can be reached by email at or by phone at 207-287-1515.

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