Maine Farmland Trust urges action on "forever" chemicals

The accredited Maine Farmland Trust and other groups, in order to support action on “forever” chemicals (or PFAS), established a relief fund to help Maine farmers cover the costs of testing, income loss and mental health support.

By Kirsten Ferguson October 7

Maine farmers are facing devastating consequences from the decades-long practice of spreading municipal sludge on farmland. Wastewater sludge was once promoted as a safe and economical fertilizer, but Maine communities recently became aware that insidious “forever” chemicals, or PFAS, seeped from sludge into soil and groundwater, contaminating wells, farmland and crops.

After Maine farmers learned the troubling news, the accredited Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) and other groups sprang to action. MFT and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association held a listening session with farmers and together established a relief fund to help Maine farmers cover the costs of testing, income loss and mental health support.

Both organizations continue to work closely with farmers as they learn more about the impacts of PFAS on their farms. MFT is also partnering with farmers and nonprofits on advocacy actions at the state and federal levels. The efforts led to the recent passage of LD 1911, which bans the land application of sludge and compost derived from sludge, and LD 2013, which establishes a $60 million fund to provide impacted farmers with critical resources. The laws are huge developments in the work to address PFAS contamination in Maine and are driving momentum nationally on the issue.

Maine is the first state to comprehensively test for the impacts of forever chemicals from sludge spreading on farmland, a practice still occurring nationwide.

“Maine is on the leading edge in the country in learning about PFAS, their impacts on agriculture and human health, and in working to address PFAS contamination,” said MFT Vice President & Deputy Director Ellen Griswold. “MFT is working closely with the state and many other partners to increase testing, research and support for Maine farmers who may be impacted.”

Learn more at https://www.mainefarmlandtrust.org/farm-network/pfas-in-maine-agriculture/.