Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Public Policy Teach-ins

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Pesticides: In the News and All Around Us

Who decides which pesticides can be approved for use – are these “forever” decisions?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

This teach-in focused on how pesticides are evaluated by state and federal authorities. Pesticides are available for sale in hardware, grocery and farm stores as well as greenhouses. All are toxic to varying degrees. Homeowners can buy many pesticides, but some are available only to licensed professionals. Many farmers count on pesticides to meet their bottom line and would be challenged to farm without them. By law, organic farmers cannot use most synthetic pesticides, so they continuously adjust farming practices to manage rising disease and insect problems. Meanwhile, homeowners are at the short end of the process – not knowing how to determine what is least toxic, what alternative controls might be used, why a pesticide is on the market and what they can do to be involved.

The teach-in brought together panelists who have been directly involved in the pesticide journey. They provided an overview of the regulatory process, explained the role of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC), our legislature, our communities and you.

Our outstanding panel included Sharon Tisher, J.D, who teaches environmental law and policy at the University of Maine, is a past president of MOFGA, reported on the Maine BPC for The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener for many years and is the author of the Pesticides Quiz; Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and a frequent Common Ground Country Fair speaker; Carol L. Hubbard, M.D., who works in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Maine Medical Partners; and Nancy Ross, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of political science at the Southern Maine Community College, retired professor of environmental policy at Unity College, former deputy commissioner at the Maine Department of Conservation and former executive director of MOFGA. We will learn about the work of federal and state staff who are expected to serve the public and respond to diverse constituents.

View the 2019 Public Policy Teach-in on YouTube


Today’s Agriculture – An Important Piece of Maine’s Economic Development Strategy

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Public Policy Teach-in, co-hosted in 2018 by MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee and Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) at the Common Ground Country Fair, focused on creating an agricultural platform for Maine’ next governor. The teach-in is posted on YouTube.

Panelists were Ellen Stern Griswold, MFT policy and research director; Penny Jordan of Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth and president of Maine Farm Bureau; Ben Whalen, co-owner of Bumbleroot Organic Farm in Windham, MOFGA Journeyperson (JP) Program graduate, member of the Southern Maine Young Farmers Coalition and former board officer of farmers’ markets in Kittery and Saco; and Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Family Farm in Bridgewater, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), past MOFGA board member and one of the earliest MOFGA-certified organic farmers.


Making America Green Again: A Workshop in Resistance

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What threats does the Maine environment now face from rollbacks in Washington, D.C.? How can Mainers fight back? Decisions made in the U.S. capital can harm the clean waters, fresh air, healthy forests and thriving wildlife of Maine, as well as the health of Maine people and our way of life. Right now the Trump administration and its allies are pursuing the most aggressive environmental rollbacks in U.S. history. Attacks on federal laws that protect our climate, public lands, air and water as well as attacks on the agencies that administer these laws could set us back decades. These threats, if implemented, would cause serious harm nationwide and would be particularly damaging for states such as Maine, where our environment and economy are tightly intertwined. Extreme cuts to Environmental Protection Agency protections that reduce pollution in Maine, save the lives of Maine people and strengthen our communities and economy would harm both our environment and economy. At the 2017 teach-in, organized by MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee, three experts described the threats we face and ways to fight back. A Q&A session followed their presentations.


Local Pesticide Control: How Your Town Can Protect Health and the Environment

Saturday, September 24, 2016

With a 700-percent increase in the distribution of home-use pesticide products in Maine in recent years, 1 what are citizens’ options when state and federal governments are not adequately protecting our health and the environment from these toxic chemicals?

Maine is fortunate to be one of seven states that allow towns to create local laws that are more restrictive than state or federal laws. Currently, 26 Maine municipalities have passed ordinances tailored to the special needs of their communities and restricting pesticide use beyond state requirements. 2 The most comprehensive, in Ogunquit, prohibits outdoor pesticide application on public and private property. South Portland and Portland are considering similar prohibitions.

Our 2016 Teach-In featured the cofounder of a national advocacy organization, the sustainability coordinator for one of Maine’s largest cities, a local activist, a town conservation commission chair, a director of a conservation organization and a physician. Hear how they are helping their communities better protect themselves from pesticide exposure.

1 Source: Maine Board of Pesticides Control



Solar and Energy Conservation for Maine Farms and Homes

Saturday, September 26, 2015

MOFGA has long recognized the need to act on climate change and get off the fossil fuel fix. With solar technology prices way down, a number of our farmers and members are discovering the advantages of clean power from the sun. Maine's solar resource is comparable to cities such as Houston and Miami, and far better than international leaders in solar such as Germany. Yet Maine is falling far behind other U.S. regions in solar installations and job creation due to a lack of state policies friendly to solar. Maine's successful solar rebate program expired in 2013. The federal tax credit for solar is set to expire in about a year and a half. States will likely have to develop a sustainable model for the solar industry to grow as the federal credit expires.

Speakers: Joshua Oxley, Mitch Lansky, Dylan Voorhees, Sara Gideon and Fortunat Mueller. Moderated by Sharon Tisher is a past president of MOFGA and a member of the MOFGA Public Policy Committee.  She teaches environmental law and policy at the University of Maine and is a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.