2015 Legislative Tour Pt 1

The first update on this year’s MPB Legislative Tour up north!

Twenty-three legislators from around the state of Maine arrived in Aroostook County Monday, July 13 for an up close and personal view of Maine’s potato industry and related agriculture.

The Maine Potato Board is hosting the legislators on this traditional tour. Held every other year, this tour was initiated in 1999 and is the eighth such event to be held in the county.

Legislators from around the entire state, from Beals to Wilton, York to Sinclair, are in attendance. “If the intent of this program is to teach us something, it’s already very successful,” said Rena Kinney of Limington on Monday evening. She is accompanying her husband Rep Jonathan Kinney.

On Monday the legislators were driven up Route 11 to have lunch and tour the Porter Seed Farm in Masardis. The group got a first hand look at early generation seed production that includes tissue culture, hydroponic greenhouse production and field production. This facility is where over 80% of all the potatoes produced in Maine get their start.

They then visited the Maine Malt House in Mapleton, a division of Buck Farms, and got an explanation of the process used to convert barley into malt for craft brewers around the state. It was a fascinating glimpse into the creating of this essential material for beer. Not only that, it is truly a value added process for the barley that the farm operation grows as part of its rotation plan for potatoes. A good time was had by all… and the opportunity to sample some of Maine’s craft beers was very informative! Fourth generation Buck family members are being resourceful in extending the reach and products from their farm operation, Buck Farms.

A dinner with a number of growers completed the first day of this educational tour. Off to the St. John Valley on Tuesday.