Read the full article by Penelope Overton (The Portland Press Herald)
“A legislative panel has unanimously approved the creation of a $100 million fund to help Maine farmers whose wells, fields and bodies are contaminated by so-called forever chemicals left behind by a state-licensed sludge-to-fertilizer program.
The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted 13-0 Thursday in favor of establishing the fund, which would be managed by an advisory committee made up of state officials, farmers and public health experts that would advise the state on how to distribute the money.
Approved uses range from reimbursing a farmer for crop losses or culled herds to cleaning up contaminated farms to buying those that are no longer suitable for agriculture. The committee also may decide to cover the farmers’ long-term PFAS-related medical costs.
It also would fund research into the relatively new science around these so-called forever chemicals, including what crops could be grown on fields that will not absorb the contamination and what levels, if any, can remain in food without posing a risk to consumers.
‘This is going to be a defining moment for agriculture,’ said Rep. Bill Pluecker, D-Warren, who helped spearhead the bill. ‘I think the state has a clear responsibility for actions we’ve taken in the past to do right by our farmers now, to make sure this gets funded and they get the money they need.’
Pluecker said the committee was moved by hours of emotional testimony from farmers whose farms are tainted by forever chemicals – per- and poly-flouroalkyl substances known as PFAS – left behind by a decades-old practice of using state-licensed sludge to fertilize their fields.”…