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Maine Farmers Can Get Free, In-Person Support for PFAS Contamination • Maine Morning Star

Maine Farmers Can Get Free, In-Person Support for PFAS Contamination • Maine Morning Star

Maine farmers can access targeted, one-on-one support to help them deal with the impacts of harmful chemicals on their farms, thanks to a new program that launched Monday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Forestry has PFAS navigator program with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to provide resources and guidance to farmers dealing with the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, on their farms. According to a press release Monday, the program is confidential and free to farmers.

“By providing farmers with tailored assistance and access to essential resources, we aim to ensure the sustainability of their livelihoods and the well-being of their families,” DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal said in the press release.

Maine is a leader in establishing PFAS protections. In 2021, Maine became the first state to pass a rule requiring manufacturers to report intentionally added PFAS in their products and banning the sale of products with intentionally added PFAS by the turn of the century.

In recent years, Maine has also passed laws to to test of land and groundwater, and investing in remediation efforts after the state-sanctioned practice of spreading sludge led to PFAS contamination on dozens of farms that have since been forced to close.

Under this new program, PFAS Navigators will work closely with farmers by answering questions, identifying unique needs and connecting them with technical, financial and social assistance programs, the release said. Program staff can also assist with PFAS-related assistance program applications and forms.

The program is funded by the department’s PFAS fund, which Gov. Janet Mills established in 2022 to support farmers whose land or water has been contaminated. The program is administered by UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Agricultural Mediation Program.

The state also has the PFAS reaction kita comprehensive list of resources for Maine farmers on a variety of topics they may encounter when dealing with PFAS, including testing results, legal services, health services, and managing long-term effects.

“Producers told us that the stress of discovering PFAS was compounded by the need to search for information and figure it all out on their own,” said PFAS Fund Director Beth Valentine. “With these two resources, impacted producers have a friendly, knowledgeable person and a reference guide to help them navigate the path forward.”

Those interested in participating in the program may contact Shiela Leonard at (email protected) or 207-955-1977.