To the Editor:

We recently celebrated Maine Farmers’ Market Week in conjunction with the national week celebrated across the country. More than 100 farmers’ markets across the state offer fresh fruits, vegetables and meats directly from Maine farms to residents and tourists alike.
Such efforts follow the farm-to-table movement that has been around for decades by sourcing locally-grown food and providing direct access for consumers to skip the middle stages of transportation and distribution to grocery stores and chains, which may or may not carry Maine-based products.
These efforts also give Maine farmers and other producers a chance to engage with customers directly in such a way as to build bonds between growers and consumers. As for Maine itself, it helps support our state’s rural economy.
About 7,600 farms dot the Maine landscape. As a rural industry, farmers cultivate milk, cattle, pork, and a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains, all within our state’s borders. And they do so on 1.3 million acres that span the potato fields in Aroostook County and the blueberry ridges of Washington County to the corn rows in Franklin County and dairy farms operating in York County.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Maine’s farming industry on average contributes $1.38 billion, or about five percent, to the state’s overall economy. The state’s major agricultural crops include potatoes and wild blueberries, the latter of which we are the largest producer in the world.
In fact, Maine farmers also produce the nation’s largest supply of brown eggs, they rank second in the nation for maple syrup, and the state is the second-largest producer of milk and livestock in New England. That doesn’t even include the aquaculture, horticulture, wood products and other kinds of cultivation taking place in Maine.
Although we recently celebrated Maine Farmers’ Market Week, we shouldn’t dedicate just a week to it. Maine’s farmers feed Maine’s people and beyond, and I hope you remember your local farmer and look for locally grown products the next time you visit the produce aisle at the grocery store. And buying products at farmers’ markets helps support them directly.
Better yet, visit your local farm. Autumn signals more upcoming harvests, so go pick some apples and pumpkins. I’m sure they’d love to see you.

Sen. Russell Black

Comments are not available on this story.