Monday, April 29, 2013

Testimony: An Act To Arm Forest Rangers

Testimony of Representative Craig Hickman for LD 297: An Act To Require Forest Rangers To be Trained in Order To Allow Them To Carry Firearms, Before the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety
April 24, 2013

Good afternoon Senator Gerzofsky, Representative Dion and other distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. My name is Craig Hickman, I represent District 82, Winthrop and Readfield, and I stand before you today in full support of LD 297, “An Act To Require Forest Rangers To be Trained in Order To Allow Them To Carry Firearms.”
On February 17, 2013, I received an email from Mr. Al Godfrey, a constituent of mine.  He wrote as follows:
“As you are aware I spend many months each year up in the unorganized territories and encounter the Forest Rangers on a regular basis. Up in the big woods we have very limited law enforcement and arming them would be a major step in the right direction. It makes no sense that I am licensed to carry a firearm via my hunting license and concealed weapon permit and yet they trying to enforce laws aren't allowed to be protected. On a number of occasions I have discussed with them coming upon an illegal bonfire where large amounts of alcohol and illicit drugs are being consumed and they are defenseless to do anything. Also confronting timber theft or breaking and entering private property. They, and us residents up there, deserve this protection. Thanking you in advance for your kind consideration in this regard, I remain...”
I wrote back asking him for a bit of history, and he replied:
“From my recollection the Forest Rangers were allowed to carry protective weapons up until 15 + years ago and the Commissioner of Conservation at that time decided that he didn't want them to do so any longer and had the statute changed. Today's activities in the forest land have changed immensely since then and as I stated in my first email those of us up in the big woods have very little protection and this would help everyone as well as the rangers trying to do the job. Hope this helps.”
So I’m scratching my head wondering what happened.  Mr. Godfrey is a well-respected member of my community who’s been around a long time, and this was the first time he contacted me directly about anything. When he asks you to get to the bottom of something, you get to the bottom of it.  I was determined to research the issue and gather information, though I wasn’t exactly sure where to begin.
Within days, as though a prayer was being answered, I received an email from a Forest Ranger who believed this legislation would be coming before the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, on which I serve, and so he told me his story. A story which led to extensive conversations.  Conversations which led to more stories from other dedicated and hard-working Forest Rangers.  A collection of compelling stories that ultimately revealed to me a troubling reality:  Forest Rangers, past and present, have had little to no voice in the biggest issues that affect their mission on the ground.
One of our colleagues here in the Maine House said, on microphone during a work session, mind you, that state employees—which, by the way, we all are, whether elected or not—would simply do what we told them to do. That we have no duty as elected public servants to listen to them.
Well, I beg to differ.
When I ran for office, I pledged to be a voice for those who cry in the dark. Imagine my surprise, then, when I became painfully aware that a group of law enforcement officials who protect one of our most valuable resources and face some of the most dangerous situations in the line of duty are among those who cry in the dark. The Forest Protection Unit is understaffed (as of this writing, up to eight candidates who have passed background checks, lie detector tests and other rigorous screenings and training are waiting anxiously to fill the unfilled positions for which the department already has the money), many Forest Rangers feel underappreciated and undervalued and still they absolutely love their work and take great pride in it.
Today, you will hear their voices, loud and clear.
This is Maine.  God’s country. Gun country, as some call it. This is Maine. Our law enforcement officials—all of them—need to be armed in order to ensure their safety so they can perform their duties most effectively.
I humbly ask that you vote ought to pass—unanimously—on LD 297. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Testimony: An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in All State Institutions

Testimony of Representative Craig Hickman, LD 1254: An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in All State Institutions Before the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government, April 22, 2013
Good afternoon Senator Lachowicz, Representative Graham and other distinguished members of the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government.  My name is Craig Hickman. I represent District 82, Winthrop and Readfield, and I stand before you today to present LD 1254, “An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in All State Institutions.”

Pursuant to Title 7 of the Maine Revised Statutes, Chapter 8-A: Food and Food Policy, Subchapter 1: Purchase of Foodstuffs from Maine, which is attached to this testimony, “It is the policy of the State to encourage food self-sufficiency for the State. State institutions and school districts in the State shall purchase food produced by Maine farmers or fishermen, provided that food is available in adequate quantity and meets acceptable quality standards, and is priced competitively.”

What a great concept. In 2005, the Legislature removed from the implementation section of the same subchapter the amounts to be expended by institutional facilities and school districts. This bill inserts benchmarks that institutions and public schools adhere to for the amount of food purchased from Maine food producers: at least 15% for the 10 years beginning in 2014; at least 25% for the next ten years; and at least 35% beginning in 2034. 

As presented, I did not suggest an amendment to strike the words “excluding milk and eggs” from the implementation language. Milk and eggs were excluded when this section of statute was created in 1983 because institutions and schools were already purchasing most of their milk and eggs from Maine farms. If the committee sees fit to amend the statute further and include Maine milk and eggs with an understanding that you would have to amend the entire subchapter and not just section 213, then I believe the proposed baseline percentages should be increased significantly. 

The remainder of Chapter 8-A, Subchapter 1 outlines how these purchases shall be coordinated. It states: 

“The commissioner shall designate an employee of the department to serve as a food purchasing coordinator to assist in the development of connections between state and school purchasers, Maine food producers and brokers and wholesales of food. 

“The food purchasing coordinator shall cause to be held an annual meeting that brings together producers, wholesalers, buyers and food service professionals to enhance opportunities for cooperation and expand the purchase of local foodstuffs by institutions and public schools. 

“The commissioner shall establish an advisory committee to discuss possibilities and review proposals for expanding purchases of local foodstuffs. The commissioner shall invite one or more representatives from each of the following agencies to serve on the advisory committee: the Department of Education; the Department of Marine Resources; the Department of Corrections; the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Bureau of Purchases; the Department of Health and Human Services; the University of Maine System; and the Maine Community College System.”

In short, our state government is charged by statute to collaborate across departments to coordinate the purchase of foods from Maine food producers in all state institutions. If we’re spending taxpayer dollars feeding people who work at or attend our colleges and public schools, who work at or serve time in our correctional facilities, or who work at or receive care in our hospitals, then why not spend as much of our money as we can on food grown, harvested, caught, or produced in our great state? 

We will increase markets for Maine farmers, fishermen, and other small businesses that produce and process food, create Maine jobs, reduce the amount of food we import, and take a giant step towards food self-sufficiency, which remains the policy of the State.

Now, then, there’s nothing to it but to do it.

I humbly ask that you vote unanimously ought to pass on LD 1254. Thank you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

State News Update

Governor Orders Flags to be Lowered in Respect for Victims in Boston Marathon Explosions
Governor Paul LePage ordered the flags of the United States and State of Maine be flown at half-staff effective immediately through sunset on Saturday, April 20, 2013 in accordance with a Presidential proclamation. On Tuesday, President Obama issued a proclamation as a mark of respect for the victims of Monday’s tragic events in Boston, Massachusetts.

The two bomb explosions have resulted in 3 deaths and more than 170 injured.

After learning of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, Governor LePage immediately released the following statement:

“It is a very sad Patriot’s Day in Boston. Ann and I send our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured in today’s horrific act of violence. For the many Mainers who are in Boston today we hope you are safe.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have announced the formation of The One Fund Boston, Inc. to help the people most affected by the tragic events. Find out more about the charity, or donate HERE.

Lawyers in Libraries: Law Day 2013

Lawyers across the state will spend time in local libraries on Law Day, Wednesday, May 1, to provide resources and assistance to people in need, talk about statewide legal issues and meet with library patrons. Lawyers in Libraries: Law Day 2013 is a free event that is open to the public. It will take place in libraries statewide from noon-2:00 p.m.

The goal of the day is twofold: to provide Maine citizens with access to legal advice and information and to demonstrate how legal access is critical to a community’s well-being; an entire community suffers when neighbors and friends go through foreclosure, are not safe in their homes, or cannot afford heat or food.

Participants in Lawyers in Libraries: Law Day 2013 will have an opportunity to meet with a lawyer based in their community and receive information about free resources, low-cost legal assistance and legal referrals.  In addition, some attendees will have the opportunity for a brief private consultation with an attorney about personal legal matters.

The names and locations of participating libraries, along with the scheduled times for the event, are available at

Hazard Mitigation Grant Application Period Open for Communities
As part of the disaster declaration for the February 2013 blizzard, Maine is receiving mitigation grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for eligible mitigation projects.

Approximately $450,000 is available in hazard mitigation grant program (HMGP) funds for eligible projects that will help the communities avoid future damages from natural disasters.

Applications must be received by 5:00 pm on June 30, 2013 or September 30, 2013. These are standing deadlines: review sessions to evaluate applications are held following each of these dates.

Communities seeking HMGP funds must be participating in a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation plan, compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and their project must be cost beneficial using the FEMA software. That is, the cost of the project must be roughly equal to or less than the historical costs of repairing previous damages at the site.

Communities must provide a 25% cost-share of the total project costs. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds can be used as cost share. Cost share can also be provided by in-kind resources such as town owned and operated equipment.

Technical assistance is available to help applicants prepare competitive applications. MEMA will be conducting workshops to guide applicants through the process and can also provide one-on-one assistance.

Visit MEMA's Mitigation Grants page for all grant guidance and forms. In particular, please review the YES/NO (HMGP Eligibility Requirements) page to determine if your project meets grant criteria.

Tips on Avoiding Bear Conflicts

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reminds homeowners that bears may be attracted to bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters and grills in their backyards this spring, where food or the odor of food is prevalent.  

When bears emerge from their winter dens in April throughout Maine, natural food is not readily available to them. That means bears may be encountered in backyards where bird feeders and garbage containers provide them with easy access to food.

The number of bear conflicts usually diminishes during late summer when berries begin to ripen, making it easier for bears to find natural food.

Last year, which included a premature spring, the Maine Warden Service received 870 bear-related complaints, compared to 395 in 2010 and 436 in 2011.
To avoid conflicts with black bears, it is imperative that homeowners take these precautions:

  • Take down bird feeders between April 1 and November  1
  • Rake up and dispose of bird seed on the ground
  • Store remaining bird seed indoors

  • Keep garbage cans inside until the morning of trash pickup
  • Keep dumpster lids closed and latched
  • Never overfill dumpsters
  • Dumpsters with plastic lids aren’t bear proof and should be kept in a secure building or protected by fencing

  • Remember to burn off any food residue, dispose of wrappers and clean the grilling area after use
  • If possible, store grills inside when not in use.
  • If you’re having bear problems, stop grilling for one to two weeks so that the bear will move on
Pet and Livestock Foods

  • Store pet and livestock foods inside
  • Clean up any uneaten feed
If you do encounter a bear, you should make loud noises, such as banging pots together, to try to scare it off. You should always back away from the bear to give it an escape route. Without an escape route, a cornered bear may charge. Remember to stay at a safe distance or in a safe location when photographing a bear.

By taking these precautions, homeowners are more likely to prevent conflicts that could pose a danger to human life or require corrective action such as moving or killing a bear.
For more information, visit

Maine History Corner

The name ‘Blaine’ is most often invoked now in conjunction with the Maine Governors’ residence. The namesake of the residence, and its former owner, James G. Blaine, is a storied figure not only in Maine’s history but also nationally. Blaine served in the Maine House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. He served as Speaker of the U.S. House from 1869-1875, and as U.S. Secretary of State on two separate occasions. He also ran for President in 1884, but lost to Grover Cleveland. Ironically, one position he never held was that of Governor of Maine.

You can view photos and read more about this prominent Mainer HERE .

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


When I first received word of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was out in the field behind the barn turning over the soil for planting. It was the first time this season that I have been able to work the land, to get soil under my nails. To hear of such horrifying news when preparing to seed new life reminded me just how much we often take for granted.  How life is so ripe with contradictions.

I lived in Boston for 16 years and immediately thought of old friends who may have been in harm’s way. A few legislators had family members in Boston. So far, they have all reported in safe and sound. If any of your friends or loved ones live in or were visiting Boston, I pray that they are safe as well.

While there is no way to take away the heart shattering loss of those who died in this senseless attack, we can offer our support to their families and the devastatingly injured survivors.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have formed The One Fund Boston to help the families most affected by the attack. For more information, click here:

If you are so inclined, please spread the word.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who grieve.

Take care of your blessings.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Floor Speech: Commemorating Holocaust Day of Remembrance

Floor speech on the Joint Resolution Commemorating the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine’s Legislative Awareness Day and Yom Hashoah, the Day of Remembrance presented by Representative Craig V. Hickman of Winthrop – April 10, 2013

And it came to pass in those days that Hitler died in his Berlin bunker. One week later, during the second week of May nineteen hundred and forty six, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally and the war in Europe ended.

In the first weeks of August, the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria. On the fourteenth day of August, Japan announced its surrender—so long as it could keep its emperor—and World War II, a most devastating war in terms of material destruction, global scale, and lives lost, ended.

My father, Hazelle Hickman, a Tuskegee Airman, fought in the war that ultimately liberated Jews from one of the most oppressive regimes in human history.

Yesterday, to my amazement and utter disbelief, we had a conversation about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Maine on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Today, we remember the Holocaust because we must never forget.

African Americans and American Jews have interacted throughout much of the history of this nation. The relationship has included widely publicized cooperation and sometimes conflict, and has been an area of significant academic research. The most significant aspect of the relationship was the cooperation during the civil rights movement, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Every New Year’s eve, my father would slow cook a slab of kosher corned beef so tender you could cut it with a fork. My mother baked a delicious rugula with a crust so flaky no one could resist it.

My first pediatrician, Dr. Eli A. Gecht, was a Holocaust survivor.

This morning during caucus, I was alerted that a man wanted to talk to me. He is the Honorable Ed Benedikt of Brunswick and he may be the only Holocaust survivor in the chamber today. He was born in Austria in 1930. Eight years later, he escaped to England. He emigrated to the United States in 1943. In 1995 and 1996 he served in the 117th Legislature. His presence here today is a blessing.

Anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry and tyranny have no place in a free society.

I will close with a quote from James Baldwin, my favorite American author and one of the literary leaders of the civil rights movement.

“One must say YES to life and embrace it wherever it is found, and it is found in terrible places… For nothing is fixed; forever and forever, it is not fixed. The earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fades, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out.”

Always treat one another with kindness.

Take care of your blessings.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker


HOUSE ADVANCE JOURNAL AND CALENDAR - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 Page 13

(4-1) On motion of Representative HICKMAN of Winthrop, the following Joint Resolution: (H.P. 986) (Cosponsored by Representatives: AYOTTE of Caswell, BEAR of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, BEAUDOIN of Biddeford, BEAULIEU of Auburn, BEAVERS of South Berwick, BECK of Waterville, BENNETT of Kennebunk, BERRY of Bowdoinham, BLACK of Wilton, BOLAND of Sanford, BOLDUC of Auburn, BRIGGS of Mexico, BROOKS of Winterport, CAMPBELL of Newfield, CAMPBELL of Orrington, CAREY of Lewiston, CASAVANT of Biddeford, CASSIDY of Lubec, CHAPMAN of Brooksville, CHASE of Wells, CHENETTE of Saco, CHIPMAN of Portland, CLARK of Easton, COOPER of Yarmouth, COTTA of China, CRAFTS of Lisbon, CRAY of Palmyra, CROCKETT of Bethel, DAUGHTRY of Brunswick, DAVIS of Sangerville, DeCHANT of Bath, DEVIN of Newcastle, DICKERSON of Rockland, DILL of Old Town, DION of Portland, DOAK of Columbia Falls, DORNEY of Norridgewock, DUNPHY of Embden, DUPREY of Hampden, ESPLING of New Gloucester, EVANGELOS of Friendship, Speaker EVES of North Berwick, FARNSWORTH of Portland, FITZPATRICK of Houlton, FOWLE of Vassalboro, FREDETTE of Newport, FREY of Bangor, GATTINE of Westbrook, GIDEON of Freeport, GIFFORD of Lincoln, GILBERT of Jay, GILLWAY of Searsport, GOODE of Bangor, GRAHAM of North Yarmouth, GRANT of Gardiner, GUERIN of Glenburn, HAMANN of South Portland, HARLOW of Portland, HARVELL of Farmington, HAYES of Buckfield, HERBIG of Belfast, HOBBINS of Saco, HUBBELL of Bar Harbor, JACKSON of Oxford, JOHNSON of Eddington, JOHNSON of Greenville, JONES of Freedom, JORGENSEN of Portland, KAENRATH of South Portland, KENT of Woolwich, KESCHL of Belgrade, KINNEY of Limington, KNIGHT of Livermore Falls, KORNFIELD of Bangor, KRUGER of Thomaston, KUMIEGA of Deer Isle, KUSIAK of Fairfield, LAJOIE of Lewiston, LIBBY of Waterboro, LIBBY of Lewiston, LOCKMAN of Amherst, LONG of Sherman, LONGSTAFF of Waterville, LUCHINI of Ellsworth, MacDONALD of Old Orchard Beach, MacDONALD of Boothbay, MAKER of Calais, MALABY of Hancock, MAREAN of Hollis, MASON of Topsham, MASTRACCIO of Sanford, McCABE of Skowhegan, McCLELLAN of Raymond, McELWEE of Caribou, McGOWAN of York, McLEAN of Gorham, MITCHELL of the Penobscot Nation, MONAGHAN-DERRIG of Cape Elizabeth, MOONEN of Portland, MORIARTY of Cumberland, MORRISON of South Portland, NADEAU of Fort Kent, NADEAU of Winslow, NELSON of Falmouth, NEWENDYKE of Litchfield, NOON of Sanford, NUTTING of Oakland, PARRY of Arundel, PEASE of Morrill, PEAVEY HASKELL of Milford, PEOPLES of Westbrook, PETERSON of Rumford, PLANTE of Berwick, POULIOT of Augusta, POWERS of Naples, PRIEST of Brunswick, PRINGLE of Windham, RANKIN of Hiram, REED of Carmel, ROCHELO of Biddeford, ROTUNDO of Lewiston, RUSSELL of Portland, RYKERSON of Kittery, SANBORN of Gorham, SANDERSON of Chelsea, SAUCIER of Presque Isle, SAXTON of Harpswell, SCHNECK of Bangor, SHAW of Standish, SHORT of Pittsfield, SIROCKI of Scarborough, SOCTOMAH of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, STANLEY of Medway, STUCKEY of Portland, THERIAULT of Madawaska, TIMBERLAKE of Turner, TIPPING-SPITZ of Orono, TREAT of Hallowell, TURNER of Burlington, TYLER of Windham, VEROW of Brewer, VILLA of Harrison, VOLK of Scarborough, WALLACE of Dexter, WEAVER of York, WELSH of Rockport, WERTS of Auburn, WILLETTE of Mapleton, WILSON of Augusta, WINCHENBACH of Waldoboro, WINSOR of Norway, WOOD of Sabattus, Senators: President ALFOND of Cumberland, BOYLE of Cumberland, BURNS of Washington, CAIN of Penobscot, CLEVELAND of Androscoggin, COLLINS of York, CRAVEN of Androscoggin, CUSHING of Penobscot, DUTREMBLE of York, FLOOD of Kennebec, GERZOFSKY of Cumberland, GOODALL of Sagadahoc, GRATWICK of Penobscot, HAMPER of Oxford, HASKELL of Cumberland, HILL of York, JACKSON of Aroostook, JOHNSON of Lincoln, KATZ of Kennebec, LACHOWICZ of Kennebec, LANGLEY of Hancock, MASON of Androscoggin, MAZUREK of Knox, MILLETT of Cumberland, PATRICK of Oxford, PLUMMER of Cumberland, SAVIELLO of Franklin, SHERMAN of Aroostook, THIBODEAU of Waldo, THOMAS of Somerset, TUTTLE of York, VALENTINO of York, WHITTEMORE of Somerset, WOODBURY of Cumberland, YOUNGBLOOD of Penobscot)


WHEREAS, from 1933 to 1945, 6,000,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust as part of a state-sponsored, systematic persecution and annihilation program of genocide, and millions of other people suffered as victims of Nazism, such as the handicapped, political dissidents and many others for racial, ethnic or national reasons; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should always remember the atrocities committed by the Nazis so that such horrors are never repeated and the history of the Holocaust offers an opportunity to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals, societies and governments; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should always remember those who liberated the Nazi concentration camps, some of whom lost their lives and others of whom have experienced lifelong emotional suffering, as holding an honored place in our history; and

WHEREAS, the people of the State of Maine should continually rededicate themselves to the principle of equal justice for all people, remain eternally vigilant against all tyranny and recognize that bigotry provides a breeding ground for tyranny to flourish; and

WHEREAS, the national community, pursuant to an Act of Congress, will be commemorating the week of April 7 through April 14, 2013 as the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, including the Day of Remembrance, known as Yom HaShoah, April 8, 2013; and

WHEREAS, it is appropriate for the people of the State of Maine to join in this international commemoration and April 10, 2013 has been designated as the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine's Legislative Awareness Day; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That We, the Members of the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Legislature now assembled in the First Regular Session, on behalf of the people we represent, pause in solemn memory of the victims of the Holocaust and in honor of the survivors, rescuers and liberators, urge everyone to recommit themselves to the lessons of the Holocaust through the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine's Legislative Awareness Day and the international week of commemoration and express our common desire to continually strive to overcome prejudice and inhumanity through education, vigilance and resistance; and be it further

RESOLVED: That suitable copies of this resolution, duly authenticated by the Secretary of State, be transmitted to the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the people of the State of Maine.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Veteran to Farmer Bill Wins Unanimous Support in Committee

Rep. Hickman’s bill to assist veterans in creating farming businesses won unanimous support from panel
AUGUSTA – Veterans would have access to a program that would assist them with starting their own farming businesses under legislation that won unanimous support from the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee last week.

Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, is the primary sponsor of the legislation. Legislators from both sides of the aisle are co-sponsoring the measure.  They are: lead co-sponsor Sen. Roger Sherman, R-Aroostook; and Sen. Rod Whittemore, R-Somerset; Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade; Rep. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta; Rep. Joyce Maker, R-Calais; Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland; Rep. Robert Saucier, D-Presque Isle; Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor; and Rep. Stanley Short, D-Pittsfield.

“We need to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders as part of our path toward prosperity,” said Hickman.  “One way we can do this is by developing viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities.”

The bill would direct the University of Maine System, Kennebec Valley Community College, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Department of Veterans and Emergency Management to design a pilot program for a postsecondary education certificate program that will enable U.S. military veterans to develop necessary skills in farming.  The program would address the difficulties some veterans face in transitioning back to civilian life after military service.  The ultimate goal of this program is to enable veterans to create new agricultural businesses. 

John Harker and Stephanie Gilbert of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry wrote in support of the concept to the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

“We agree and recognize the success of the GI Bill and what it does to assist those who have returned from keeping our country safe. We also believe that agriculture can be a successful occupation for many Maine families who have the passion and interest in farming as a part-time or full-time profession,” they wrote.

The bill received unanimous support from the committee and will go to the full Legislature for a vote in the coming weeks.