The supplemental budget bill Gov. Paul LePage signed yesterday includes a provision to merge the departments of conservation and agriculture, creating the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
The new department merges the Maine Department of Conservation and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, according to a press release from the governor's office. The new department is expected to make more efficient use of scarce resources, reduce duplication and compete for funding, according to LePage.
One ACF commissioner will lead the department, along with two deputy commissioners; one commissioner position will be eliminated. No other positions will be changed.
The new department will have 732 full-time and seasonal employees and have a budget of $96.5 million. It will be organized into seven divisions:
More detailed plans on the department and its budget will be submitted to the next Legislature. The Legislature's Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has the authority to meet up to six times during the legislative interim to discuss planning, program operations and implementation issues.