Maine Farmland Trust Working To Preserve Maine’s Farmland 

The 70th annual Maine Agricultural Trade Show in Augusta is now in full swing. Tuesday, the Maine Farmland Trust announced a fundraising campaign they hope will help preserve 100,000 acres of Maine farmland. John Piotti is the Executive Director of the Maine Farmland Trust. “We believe strongly in the promise and potential of farming as businesses in this state,” Piotti says.That is the main reason why the folks at the MFT are trying to preserve 100,000 acres of Maine farmland by 2014.Folks here know that’s an expensive goal. They estimate it costs around $50-million to preserve 100,000 acres but they say it’s well worth the price. “We need to preserve more farmland so that existing farmers can afford to expand and new farmers can enter the business,” Seth Bradstreet, Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture, told the crowd of onlookers at Tuesdays press conference inside the Augusta Civic Center. They hope to raise $10-million this year and they’ve already raised half that through private contributions and donated land.Dick Perkins runs a family owned and operated farm in Charleston. He wants his son to take over for him some day. “My son graduated from college in ’02 and he said, Dad this is what I want to do.”That dream was almost derailed. Two years ago, Perkins’ farm lost 117 acres of land they rented when it was sold and used for something other than farming. He either had to downsize his herd or get out of the business entirely. “In the last 10 years, we’ve spent about 3/4 of a million dollars in facilities,” Perkins says. “And to have to cut the herd in half because you couldn’t feed them, wouldn’t have been a very pleasant experience.” Perkins says MFT bought a nearby farm and he’s working out a lease and purchase agreement that will allow him to keep his farm. Now he’s hopeful he’ll be able to see his son take over. “How many people can go to work and say they work hand and hand with their son all day long? You just don’t get that. That means an awful lot to me.”To learn more about Maine Farmland Trust or to become a member you can visit their website: