Pingree Announces $13 Million to Support Maine’s Natural Resources and Rural Businesses
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, today welcomed more than $13 million in new investments from the Biden Administration to advance rural prosperity, economic development, competition, and sustainability in Maine. President Biden announced more than $5 billion in investments across five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiatives, including investments in conservation programs, such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), bolstered by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
“These investments will play a critical role for rural communities in Maine. I'm thrilled to see the RCPP investments supporting habitat recovery for salmon in Maine, and equally excited that there is funding to supporting potato growers in implementing climate smart practices. Both projects will help mitigate the climate crisis and protect Maine’s natural resources. The REAP grants in my district will help rural businesses transition to renewable energy, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. President Biden’s significant investment in rural America will help us harness the full potential of agriculture and energy to be part of the climate solution,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a longtime organic farmer and member of the House Agriculture Committee. “In Washington, I am working to craft a new Farm Bill that builds on these investments and gives rural communities and farmers the tools they need to fight the climate crisis.”
The funding for Maine is as follows:
$5,981,860 for the Maine Department of Marine Resources Focused In-Stream Habitat project: Aims to substantially improve in-stream habitat (including habitat diversity, habitat cover, and sediment sorting) to create spawning and rearing habitat in a focused effort in the three salmon habitat recovery units in Maine. The primary watersheds for this project were chosen based on their documented lack of large wood or insufficient channel complexity, based on physical habitat surveys. to the project will implement a suite of NRCS practices, specifically focusing on large, complex in-stream habitat enhancement projects engineered log jams and installations using rock and wood), that we expect to improve in-stream habitat and stream function.
$6,934,496 for McCain Foods: Through the Improving Soil Health in Potato Supply Chains project, McCain Foods will implement soil health and climate-SMART agriculture practices and systems to improve the resilience of potato-growing operations on more than 6,000 acres in Wisconsin and Maine. Partner soil health experts will visit farms to develop soil health plans and conduct soil health testing. This project will work with participating producers to plan, design, and implement soil health management practices that meet grower goals and objectives. Project partners will use a combination of soil testing and greenhouse gas modeling to evaluate and report on the project’s environmental outcomes.
$37,584 grant for MUA Lobster LLC: To install a 24.93 kilowatt (kW) roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system at MUA Lobster LLC in Brunswick, Cumberland County, Maine. The project annually is expected to save $6,475; generate 29,790 kilowatt hours (kWh) (33 percent), enough energy to power four homes; and recycle rather than landfill 7.3 tons of waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
$83,656 grant for FRG Inc: To help FRG Inc. dba Goodwin's Volvo, an automotive sales facility located in Topsham (Sagadahoc County), Maine, install a new 87.36 kilowatt (kW) roof mount solar photovoltaic system. It will generate 77,500 kilowatt hours (kWh) (100 percent of the business energy use) per year, the environmental benefits of the project include the equivalents of 906 trees planted, seven homes taken off the grid, 59,913 pounds of coal not burned, 12 cars taken off the road, or 22 cross-country flights not taken.
The IRA, championed by House Democrats and signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, represents the single largest investment in climate and clean energy solutions in American history. The IRA provides an additional $19.5 billion over five years to support USDA’s conservation programs that yield climate change mitigation benefits.
Pingree has been an organic farmer since the 1970s and is a recognized national policy leader on sustainable food and farming. As a member of both the House Agriculture Committee and House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, Pingree continues to be a vocal advocate for agriculture and food policy reform. Because of her leadership, the 2018 Farm Bill more than doubled funding for organic research, created the first federal produce prescription program, and created the local agriculture market program with permanent federal funding.
Last week, Pingree and all Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee wrote to Chair Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member David Scott (D-Ga.) urging that the nearly $20 billion of conservation funding passed in the historic Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) be used only for its intended purpose in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Pingree is the author of the Agriculture Resilience Act, comprehensive legislation that sets a bold vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040.
In addition to the Agriculture Committee, Pingree is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which she chaired in the 117th Congress.