Nearly two dozen state legislators, plus some guests, arrived in Aroostook County on Tuesday to participate in the biannual potato industry legislative tour, guests of the Maine Potato Board.
Visiting legislators are from all over the state, with a number of them making their first visit to the county. From Sinclair to South Berwick, Bethel to Beals, legislators are coming to the county representing all areas of the state. Some of their colleagues from Aroostook are joining them as well to learn more about our potato industry. A highlight for the visitors always is the opportunity to meet and socialize with a number of growers and learn first-hand about new technologies, the challenges in today’s farming, and the opportunities for new practices.
The legislators left Bangor via bus and arrived in the county on Route 11, with their first stop at the Maine Seed Potato Board Seed Farm in Masardis. Over 80 percent of the potatoes produced in Maine get their start at the Masardis facility, which is isolated enough so lab and farm workers can control any vehicle and foot traffic into the facility and fields. Early generation seed production includes tissue culture, hydroponic greenhouse production and field production.
Following an up close presentation on the challenges and successes of the seed production facility, the visitors headed into Ashland and then down to the Chapman/Mapleton Buck Farms and the Maine Malt House. The Bucks have developed the only grain malting facility in the county, providing product to local craft brewers across the state while adding value to crops used in their rotation plan for potato production. Smart!
The day will conclude with a dinner for the guests and some local growers, with an opportunity to meet one another and to discuss their issues and how legislators can support the future of farming in the next legislative session.
Check us out tomorrow as the tour heads north and into the St. John Valley to meet and visit some exciting opportunities being developed by several multi-generational valley growers!
“It’s always a big job to prepare and organize our tour every other year, but so rewarding,” said Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board. “Thanks to great MPB staff and very supportive growers who give of their time and resources, we can share our industry with legislators from around the state and give them a quick look at who we are and the critical role the potato industry plays in our state.”