Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

December 6, 2019

Merrymeeting Bay groups look to tackle farm labor shortage

Image / Google Maps Organizations and businesses from the 14 towns that surround Merrymeeting Bay are getting together to discuss the agricultural labor shortage Dec. 16.

A wide-ranging group of stakeholders from the Merrymeeting Bay area are getting together later this month to discuss ways to address the local farm labor shortage.

The Merrymeeting Food Council and University of Maine Cooperative Extension are hosting a roundtable Monday, Dec. 16, to discuss farm labor models, share resources and build a network focused on short and long-term solutions to a shortage of workers in the industry.

The council, based in Brunswick, represents 14 towns that surround Merrymeeting Bay, including Richmond, Dresden, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Woolwich, Bath, Topsham, Brunswick, West Bath, Arrowsic, Westport, Harpswell, Phippsburg and Georgetown. The group is a collaborative network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, government and individuals working together to advance the food system in the region.

Planning partners for the event besides the food council include area farmers and representatives of Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative; Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust; the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry; the Maine Department of Labor; Land for Good; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

During a state-wide series of nine listening sessions with farms and food producers commissioned by a cohort of agriculture-related businesses and organizations, participants said their top priority is to enhance the profitability of farming, and that the biggest obstacle is attracting and retaining workers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent figures, for 2017, found 7,600 farm operations in Maine on 1.3 million acres, and 13,414 farmers and food producers. Some 96% of agriculture operations were defined as family farms.

In 2017, out of 7,600 farms, 2,230 hired workers, according to the USDA. In 2012, there were 8,173 farms in the state, and 2,415 hired workers.

The roundtable is from 5-8 p.m. at Merrymeeting Hall, 33 Main St. in Bowdoinham. Organizers of the Bowdoinham event said in a news release that they hope farmers, farm laborers and service providers will attend and join the discussion. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF