maine governor blames land trusts for states rising property taxes

posted March 8, 2018

Maine Governor LePage
This message is sent on behalf of Tim Glidden, President at Maine Coast Heritage Trust. 

Dear Maine Land Trusts,

Last night, Governor LePage delivered his final State of the State address. As we expected, right out of the gate he blamed land trusts for Maine’s rising property taxes. He relied upon many statistics to make his case. Unfortunately, much of what he said was inaccurate and out of context.

What’s Missing?

The Governor’s comments continue to ignore the many benefits of conservation land to Maine people and our state’s economy. These land trust conserved lands include more than 2.1 million acres of productive forestland, 36,000 acres of active farmland, and more than 60 access sites for commercial fisherman. Land trusts also provide public access to sportsmen on more than 90% of all their conserved lands and thousands of miles of trails for hiking, skiing, mountain biking, ATV riding, and snowmobiling.

In addition, contrary to the Governor’s depiction, land trusts are working in partnership with municipalities, community leaders, and businesses all around the state to complete conservation projects to improve the lives of Maine people and visitors. This is why land conservation and efforts like the Land for Maine’s Future program continue to enjoy should broad, bipartisan support.

Big Misstatement

The Governor’s speech included the wild assertion that land trusts are responsible for removing more than $18 billion of land off the municipal tax rolls, resulting in a loss of more than $330 million in property taxes. To the contrary, the $18 billion and $330 million figures he referenced include all tax exempt real estate (land and buildings) owned by the Federal Government, the State of Maine, municipalities, quasi-municipal organizations, churches, and other nonprofits. We estimate the land trust component of this figure to be less than 1% of the total.

For more information and additional statistics about Maine land trusts and their lands, view the report HERE.

What you can do to help

MCHT anticipates that the Governor will be submitting legislation over the next month targeting land trust tax exemption eligibility.

Over the past few weeks, many of you have stepped up to submit opinion pieces to your local newspaper to tell the real story of land conservation in Maine. These have been very helpful. If you have not had a chance to submit something to your local newspaper, it is not too late.

Stay tuned for future updates on this issue. MCHT is working on additional communications strategies and will share with you the legislation once it becomes official.

Click HERE to watch the full speech (the land trust section begins around the 12-minute mark). Alternatively, you can also read a full transcript HERE

support farmworkers – boycott wendy’s

posted October 18, 2017

credit: coalition of immokalee workers/vimeo

As part of today’s Food Week action, support farmworkers by delivering a manager’s letter to a Wendy’s near you.

Dear Wendy’s Manager,

As a Wendy’s consumer and supporter of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) groundbreaking Fair Food Program, I urge Wendy’s to join with the CIW and the Florida tomato industry as they work to eliminate the forced labor, poverty wages and other human rights abuses historically faced by Florida farmworkers who harvest your tomatoes.

For decades, Florida’s farmworkers endured poverty wages and daily violations of their basic rights in order to harvest the food on our plates:

• Stagnant, sub-poverty wages: Florida tomato harvesters are still paid by the piece. The prevailing piece rate today is 50 cents for every 32-lbs of tomatoes a worker picks, a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 1980. As a result of that stagnation, a worker today must pick nearly 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday. Most farmworkers today earn less than $12,000 a year.

• Absence of fundamental labor rights: Florida farmworkers have no right to overtime pay, no benefits and no right to organize in order to improve these conditions.

• Modern-day slavery: In the most extreme cases, workers have been forced to labor against their will through the use or threat of physical violence.

The good news is that a new day has dawned in the fields. The Fair Food Program, an historic partnership among farmworkers, tomato growers, and eleven leading food corporations is building a new tomato industry that advances the human rights and dignity of farmworkers while strengthening the sustainability of the entire industry. By joining the Fair Food Program, corporations require more humane working conditions from their Florida tomato suppliers, pay a small premium to help support those improved conditions, and commit to purchase exclusively from growers who meet the Program’s higher standards. These commitments are monitored and audited by the Fair Food Standards Council, a nonprofit third party organization, to ensure accountability and transparency.

Of the five largest fast food corporations in the country — McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell (Yum! Brands), and Wendy’s — Wendy’s is the only one not participating in the Fair Food Program. Sustainable restaurant leader Chipotle Mexican Grill also participates.

Wendy’s has responded to consumers’ calls to join the Fair Food Program by saying “[W]e pay a premium to our tomato suppliers in Florida, and expect them to take care of their employees. All of our Florida tomato suppliers participate in the Fair Food Program.”

The truth is, whatever premium Wendy’s may be paying is not the Fair Food Premium, it is not being monitored by the Fair Foods Standards Council, and it is not going to address farmworkers’ grinding poverty. Wendy’s statement that its suppliers belong to the Fair Food Program is both unverifiable and meaningless because Wendy’s, unlike its competitors in the Fair Food Program, does not have to, and does not, tell anyone who its tomato suppliers are. Nor does Wendy’s have to suspend its purchases from any participating grower found out of compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct. These are the dual linchpins that give the Program its teeth, and Wendy’s simply is not doing its part.

The Fair Food Program is a proven model, recognized by both the White House and the United Nations, that offers Wendy’s a tremendous opportunity to become, without incurring any competitive disadvantage, part of the human rights advances in Florida’s fields.

As a Wendy’s consumer, I look forward to your company working with the CIW and with Florida’s tomato growers through the Fair Food Program to ensure human rights for Florida farmworkers who harvest the tomatoes used in your restaurants.

For more information, please contact the CIW at 239-657-8311 or


You can download, a copy of this letter to print and mail HERE.

its world food day!

posted October 16, 2017


Today is world food day and the second day of Food Week of Action. World food day was established in 1945 on the anniversary of the launch of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Celebrated on the 16th of October each year, the purpose is to raise awareness of hunger and poverty and to inspire ideas for change, the ultimate goal is zero hunger. The FAO gives 8 reasons why we should all do what we can to achieve zero hunger:


help puerto rico get back on it’s feet in the aftermath of the hurricane maria – send seeds!

posted October 14, 2017

Hurricane Maria
credit: US Department of Defence

Dear young farmers,

If you are feeling in this circus of crises that our response to the common plight of a planet in an un-natural spin defines us as a society, and that the scar tissues formed over the wounded parts of ourselves and our lands— then perhaps you will resonate with the campaign undertaken by a number of our favorite organic seed companies to send free seeds down to the farmers and gardeners of Puerto Rico.

YOUR EXTRA seeds, or your mothers’ and aunties and favorite foodie customers extra seeds— are most valued by the Puerto Ricans struggling to rebuild their resilience.

If you have a list of folks or a blog or an instagram, or a CSA pickup shed— perhaps you can post this information so that more benevolent biodiverse, material and solidaritous energy can flow down to the hurricane islands.

Seeds (non-gmo, nutritionally dense crops, fast growing, low maintenance, pest or disease resistant, and easy to save seeds) can be sent directly to the farmers on the ground in Puerto Rico via this mailing address:

Calle Salva #657
Urb. Miramar
San Juan PR 00907
961 Bergen St, Apt 4B
Brooklyn, NY, 11216

There are a number of other ways you can help if sending seeds is not an option:

  1.  Donate to one of the trusted organizations listed at the end of this post.
  2.  Donate food (fresh, prepared or canned) and drinking water (preferably water filters, specifically those used for camping) directly.  These types of items can be mailed to:

Fondo Resiliencia Puerto Rico, 

Calle Oneill #135, 

Hato Rey, PR, 00918

  1. Donate machinery/equipment: farming tools, generators, chainsaws, wood chippers, solar equipment, 5 gal. gas tanks (empty), etc. – these larger items can be sent to the same address as the seeds.

Puerto Rico Agroecology Funds post Hurricane Maria:

biodynamic wildfire relief fund

posted October 13, 2017

credit: The Biodynamic Association

Following the devastation caused by the spread of massive wildfires in California over the past week it has become apparent that many of those within the biodynamic community have been directly affected. Among these is Frey Vineyards, a pioneer in Biodynamic® wine and dedicated supporter of the BDA. The vineyard has experienced significant losses due to the fires, as have many other farms and vineyards. Many more have been evacuated from their homes and are waiting anxiously as the fires continue to spread. In response the Biodynamic Association is considering setting up a recovery fund to enable donations to assist biodynamic farmers experiencing losses of animals, crops, homes, and infrastructure in the region. If you or someone you know in the biodynamic community is in need of financial support, please contact Karisa Centanni at to help them better understand the needs of the biodynamic community and how they can mobilize support.


ICE to undocumented Farm Workers: “You should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried.”

posted June 25, 2017



As we know, farm workers are one of the most essential parts of the food supply chain. Without their dedication and hard work, the food they produce would never reach our table. In the US, the vast majority of farm workers are undocumented and so are constantly subject to persecution, low wages and deportation.  The United Farm Workers have been fighting for years for rights for undocumented farm workers to gain citizenship, but they have not yet won their fight. Raids on farm workers are happening at a faster rate than ever before and undocumented farm workers constantly live life in fear of deportation.

In the words of acting ICE Director Homan to undocumented immigrants including those feeding us and our communities, “You should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried.”

Farm workers and their families are constantly worried that they will be next and are often targeted on the basis of their race. As hate and fear are finding footholds all over the country, now is the time to support our farm workers and farming communities. The UFW are working to educate workers about their rights and continue to campaign on behalf of undocumented farm workers in a bid to secure residency rights for these essential  members of our community, some of whom have been working hard and paying taxes for over 20 years.

To find out more  about the work being done by the United Farm Workers, or to donate to this important cause click here

Farms not Factories are rooting for real farms in a bid to end factory farming

posted June 23, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 17.55.59.png
Screen Capture / FarmsNotFactories

FarmsNotFactories have just launched their new video series which aims to champion the #TurnYourNoseUp at pig factories campaign in the UK. The first installment of the 12 episode series features chef Damian Clisby and Harry Boglione, a young organic farmer who left London and returned to the land to raise his happy, healthy pigs. FarmsNotFactories aims to engage consumers as well as farmers and chefs in the revolt against cruel, unhealthy and dangerous factory farms, where pigs are regularly dosed with antibiotics to treat the diseases caused as a direct result of the cramped unsanitary conditions in which they are kept. This over reliance on antibiotics is a significant cause of the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria which poses significant health risks in the future to both people and animals. Organic farming where pigs are allowed to roam free and are cared for largely eliminates the need to medicate these intelligent and beautiful animals.

Watch Episode 1 of FarmsNotFactories new video series here!

happy boy farms needs your help!

posted March 23, 2017

happy boy farms flood

For over 20 years, the good people at Happy Boy Farms have been providing delicious organic produce to loyal customers throughout Northern California and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Now more than ever, though, they need your help as unfortunately it is possible to have too much of a good thing:

Last year at this time, we prayed for rain, as we had experienced significant crop failure due to years of drought. This winter, we got what we prayed for, and it has rained, and rained, and rained, resulting in flooding that has caused catastrophic damage to our farm.  While we know the risk of farming fresh, organic produce looms large, this winter season has hit us harder than any of our 25 years growing organically. A thirty foot river of water swept away our tractor while wiping  out over 100 acres of crops ready for harvest.  Meanwhile, the flooding has prevented us from accessing 80 acres of our fields to plant for the upcoming spring crops.  In all, over 1/2 of our productive land is inaccessible. Furthermore, several large electric motors that power our wells have been ruined by flood waters. Now more than ever, the generosity of our dedicated customer base will help to determine the future of our farm.

There’s a Go Fund Me campaign set up to help out this wonderful farm in their time of need. Feel free to donate large or small and please help spread the word by sharing this post and the following link:

talkin healthcare for farmers

posted February 20, 2017

Farmer Taylor Hutchinson photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR
Taylor Hutchinson – photo credit: Kathleen Masterson/VPR

Folks, this is a pretty important conversation!

Already on the margins of income, new farmers face an especially challenging prospect when it comes to budgeting for health insurance.

The good people over at Vermont Public Radio recently did a show on the difficulties of trying to navigate the world of health care for farmer businesses.

UVM rural sociologist and researcher Shoshanah Inwood says when they asked farmers about issues they faced she expected to hear about cost of land, inputs, neighbors, but was surprised to learn that health care was on all the participants minds.

“The number one issue facing farmers was the cost of health insurance. They identified that as the biggest threat to their farm,” she said.

“Well, how many people know a farmer that has an injury? Or a farm family that has a chronic health issue? Or a mental health issue?’ And everybody’s hand goes up,” Inwood said. “And that’s the one issue we really never talk about, are some of those social needs that farm families have.”

Let’s just say this now: health care as a right not a privilege!

You can hear the VPR interview with farmer Taylor Hutchinson (Footprint Farm) and read the full article here 


woman power: home to cameroon’s sustainable farming movement

posted January 5, 2017


Check out Woman Power, an organization started by Cameroon locals Victor (above) and Betty Kubia.

NW Cameroon is a particularly hardworking agricultural region where 90% of the farmers are women and revolution is in the air.

In this region, a culture of chemical farming (imposed during the green revolution) has created a longstanding degenerative cycle for soil health and the nutritional quality of vegetables. As it stands, many women are obligated after so many years to purchase expensive, synthetic products to even get a yield. As one woman from the town of Bafut in NW Cameroon says: “the harvest I get is not enough to pay for the fertilizers and then feed my family of seven and also pay tuition and buy school materials for my children.”

The Kubia’s seek to build the Woman Power Training Center on their own land just outside of Bamenda City strategically close to the three villages of Bafut, Ndu, and Santa. Here nearly 600 women will have access to hands-on workshops on soil health, composting, crop rotation, cover cropping, fallow cultivation as well as many traditional methods. One such method is forming the crescent moon shaped beds that are ideal for handling some 400″ of rain per month during the rainy season.

If you are interested in being a supporting member of this project you have two options!

  1. You may email Andrew at to join their emailing campaign
  2. You may click HERE to learn more about Woman Power and then Donate at least $10 to support building a Woman Power Training Center for alternative agriculture.