FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Sure, it's cold in Maine but that doesn't mean things can't grow in the winter. The kale is doing just fine at Laughingstock Farm in Freeport.
Ralph Turner has owned the organic vegetable farm for 17 years. They sell to restaurants and directly to consumers
through Community Supported Agriculture. People buy a CSA share and come to the farm to gather fresh picked produce.
Year round farming in Maine is challenging and Turner was
hopeful the nearly 1 trillion dollar farm bill would provide some help, ideally in the form of subsidies to heat his greenhouse with renewable fuel. That didn't make it into the bill.
Representative Chellie Pingree, a strong advocate for local farms, wrote legislation that ended up in the final bill including
150 million dollars to help promote Farmer's Markets. The Farm Bill also eliminates a five percent surcharge for organic crop insurance, helping to level the playing field for organic farmers.
And some smaller family farms in Maine will be able to take advantage of diversified crop insurance which allows
whole farms to be insured, not just specific crops.
The bill could also help people like Tod Yankee. He is the co-owner of Maine Harvest, a start up company that plans to process local produce at this former Navy Commissary building in Topsham. They need a half million more to open the doors and the farm bill could help.
No one is calling it perfect...but the newly signed law will offer some New England farms a chance to grow.