Governor Paul LePage met with dozens of Maine farmers at the 71st Annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show on Tuesday, January 10. Today is the first day of the Trades Show which will run through Thursday, January 12, 2012, at the Augusta Civic Center.
Hosted by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, the show will feature dozens of lectures, demonstrations, and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations, committees, and agencies, as well as over 100 exhibits featuring the newest in agricultural products, equipment, and services. One of the state's largest agricultural events, more than 5,000 people from around the state are expected to attend this year.
Governor LePage had an opportunity to meet with Maine farmers and recognize agriculture's vital and vibrant contribution to Maine's economy which contributes a billion dollars annually and employs thousands of people. "Farming, fishing and forestry play a major role in Maine's business economy. I believe we can be good stewards of the land and protect our environment at the same time. Branding the Maine-made product will also help us become successful. Maine quality is second to none, but through the years we've seen the Maine brand fade and we need to bring it back," said the Governor.
"As we look to the immediate future, the Maine Department of Agriculture will focus on redirecting existing resources by partnering with other government entities, producers, promotion groups, and industry to further the marketing both in and out of state of Maine agricultural products," said Agriculture Commissioner Walter E. Whitcomb. "We will also advance the importance of encouraging a focus on healthy Maine foods, support continued innovative production of foods, and push for growth of sourcing foods to schools, restaurants, and farmers' markets," Whitcomb added.
Additionally, the Governor spoke about lowering energy prices and the proposed merger of the State of Maine Agriculture Department and Conservation Department. The LePage Administration is focused on improving the natural resource economy by merging those agencies into a single division, a proposal that was announced last fall. Governor LePage shared the plan with Trades Show attendees stating that the merger will result in a natural resource based agency geared toward providing important services to the industry and working together with industry to address its needs and help move it forward. Show hours will be:
* Tuesday, January 10, 9:00 AM--5:00 PM
* Wednesday, January 11, 9:00 AM--8:00 PM
* Thursday, January 12, 9:00 AM--3:00 PM
Free admission is offered all three days.
The complete program and schedule are available at: http://www.getrealmaine.com/