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September 22, 2022

With Common Ground fair kicking off, food producers announce plans for PFAS relief fund

Courtesy / Grandy Organics Grandy Organics Marketing Manager Evan Connolly, left, and CEO Aaron Anker prepare to install a PFAS Energy Relief Fund signage at Portland Food Co-Op in Portland.

A number of food producers and other businesses are donating funds to a PFAS Emergency Relief Fund administered by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine Farmland Trust.

The fund was established to support any Maine farm dealing with contamination from potential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

FILE PHOTO / Peter Van Allen
The Common Ground Country Fair, where this post-and-beam building demonstration was held, is back to being a live event this year.

The announcement was made on the eve of the Common Ground Country Fair, which starts today in Unity and runs through the weekend. MOFGA’s annual celebration of rural living features 1,000-plus exhibitors and speakers.

PFAS have been widely used since the 1950s in products ranging from food packaging to firefighting foam. PFAS have recently been recognized as contaminants in agriculture and are believed to largely be entering soil through the application of biosolids, industrial sludges and ashes. According to MOFGA, at this time there are no federal thresholds for PFAS contamination in food crops, and Maine only has thresholds set for milk and beef, which were recently developed.

Earlier this week, Grandy Organics, a small-batch maker of organic cereals, trail mix and roasted nuts in Hiram, said it would donate $10,000 to the fund. “The staff at Grandy Organics was devastated when the news broke about PFAS in Maine,” Grandy Organics’ CEO, Aaron Anker, said in a news release.  

In addition to the donation, Grandy Organics paid for an underwriting campaign on Maine Public radio to raise greater awareness for the PFAS Emergency Relief Fund.

Other Maine businesses that have pledged support include the Lost Kitchen, Bangor Savings Bank, Rosemont Market & Bakery, Nina June restaurant, Belfast Community Co-op, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Farm Credit East, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Devenish Wines, Family Dinner, and Waterville Creates.

PFAS Emergency Relief Fund

The money will be used to help pay for interim support, including:

  • Initial PFAS testing on farms that do their own testing
  • Access to wellness and mental health services for impacted farmers
  • Short-term income replacement for farms that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has identified as having high test results
  • Investment in infrastructure adaptations to help PFAS-impacted farms remain viable.
  • The testing grants program encompasses home or irrigation water, farm soil and farm products. 

Commercial farms, those that sell at least $2,000 to consumers outside of the household, are eligible. Indigenous producers of food and medicine do not need to meet commercial farm eligibility criteria. 

Farms that derive at least half of their family income from their farm will be prioritized.

Applications will be reviewed weekly.

For more information, click here. 


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