From the community

Maine DEP, DACF Extend $3 Million To Farmers For Resource Protection Projects

Posted April 17, 2013, at 12:32 p.m.

-The partnership between the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the Finance Authority of Maine and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank will support implementation of projects that reduce agricultural impacts to water resources-

AUGUSTA – Maine’s Departments of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are helping farmers who want to do their part to protect water quality by releasing $3 million for agriculture improvements loans.

The two State departments, in partnership with the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) and the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, have expanded the Nutrient Management Loan Program, developed to fund construction of containment and handling facilities for milk room and manure waste. Since its inception in 1999, that program has made 14 loans totaling $1.3 million.

The DEP-administered Clean Water State Revolving Fund will provide up to $3 million for FAME to finance the loans with farmers able to borrow up to $450,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2 percent for up to 20 years.

“Agriculture is a $1.5 billion industry in Maine, and the thousands of people who work in it have the important responsibility of stewarding 1.25 million acres,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I thank these two agencies for coming together with FAME and the bond bank to increase the sustainability of Maine farms and our state. This expanded loan program is good news for our natural resources and for our economy.”

Loans will fund agricultural projects that mitigate nonpoint source pollution by reducing or treating agricultural runoff and improving or maintaining water quality through irrigation system improvements and the use of irrigation reservoirs to maintain in-stream flows and water levels.

Eligible improvement projects include repairs to or installation of roof runoff structures, water and sediment control basins, composting facilities, anaerobic digesters and irrigation system water conservation. DACF will review the proposed projects for eligibility and to ensure they are completed in accordance with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services design criteria.

“Maine’s farmers know firsthand the great value of clean water and the importance of minimizing agricultural runoff,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia W. Aho. “Thanks to our increased funding commitment, these important partners in protection will be able to better steward the land and water they depend on for their livelihood while investing in the future of the farms that feed Maine people and our economy.”

“These loan opportunities will lead to investments in agricultural infrastructure,” added DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Long-term agricultural viability protects Maine water resources.”

Since 1989, the Maine Clean Water State Revolving Fund has provided over $650 million in low-interest loans for projects that improve water quality and protect environmental and public health, largely to publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities.

For more information on Maine’s Nutrient Management Loan Program, visit www.maine.gov/agriculture/narr/ or contact Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Nutrient Management Coordinator Mark Hedrich at (207) 287-7608 or mark.hedrich@maine.gov.

For more information on Maine’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, visit www.maine.gov/dep/assistance/grants-loans or contact Maine Department of Environmental Protection Engineering Services Manager John True at (207) 287-7808 or john.n.true@maine.gov.

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