Maine Agriculture: a natural Resource Based Industry Constantly Adapting to Change

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Maine Agriculture: A Natural Resource Based Industry Constantly Adapting to Change

Stewart N. Smith

Department of Resource Economics & Policy

Winslow Hall

University of Maine

Orono, ME 04469

The attached is a draft of a paper to be submitted in August for use at the Blaine House Conference on Natural Resource Industries. It is the product of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Department or the Administration. It is being circulated to a wide range of people for review.

Your review and comments are welcomed and essential. The author welcomes comments regarding both substance and fact. They should be submitted by mid-August to be considered for incorporation into the final paper.
Comments are being organized by Deputy Commission Ned Porter at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. Please submit comments to:
Address: Edwin Porter, Deputy Commissioner

Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources

28 State House Station

Augusta, ME 04333-0028

Telephone: (207) 287-3871

Maine Agriculture: A Natural Resource Based Industry Constantly Adapting to Change
Maine agriculture continues to respond and adapt to new world environments with varying degrees of success. It has historically done so -- and continues today. Some of these responses are represented by long historical trends; others may be the start of new trends. This paper explores those trends as part of the context to understanding the current condition of Maine agriculture. It then lists a number of strengths and weaknesses of Maine agriculture, discusses opportunities provided by those strengths and weaknesses, and offers some “new ways” of thinking that might further the capture of those opportunities. The ideas and perspectives are drawn largely from a preliminary Blaine House Conference on Natural Resource Industries held in the Spring of 2003, a number of secondary sources on Maine agriculture, comments on an outline paper, and the author’s own work and familiarity with Maine agriculture.
This paper focuses primarily on the farming sector since it holds most of the land base and has been the traditional constituent of Maine agricultural policy. It focuses less on the processing sector and very little on the distribution and retailing sector, although they each are a much larger component of the food and agricultural system than farming.


Industry structure

Maine agriculture today can be viewed from two perspectives. The more common view is of an industry that produces agricultural commodities. By that view we perceive Maine agriculture to be potatoes (about $100 million sales per year), milk (~$100 million), eggs (~$60 million), blueberries (~$30 million), nursery (~$25 million) vegetables (~$20 million), cattle (~$15 million), apples (~$10 million), and a number of commodities with lesser sales1. Altogether it adds to roughly a $425-450 million industry in current dollars (New England Agricultural Statistics Service). Thirty years ago, from this perspective, Maine agriculture would have been potatoes, milk, eggs, and broilers, each with sales of about $100 million, with apples, blueberries, and cattle between $10 to $15 million each. While the mix of commodities changed quite substantially, it added up to a $425-450 million industry in nominal dollars then, suggesting a decline in real value since.

In addition to farm production, commodity agriculture includes a processing sector that converts raw agriculture products grown in Maine into processed products for sale to consumers or for further processing, especially for milk, blueberries and potatoes. This industry segment represents about $500 million of direct economic activity, or about 50% of total food processing in the State.
This view of agriculture is often referred to as industrial agriculture. In this paper commodity agriculture and industrial agriculture will be used interchangeably.
An alternative and increasingly useful perspective of Maine agriculture is of a food system, where agriculture is an industry that provides food to human consumers rather than commodities to national markets. In this view, Maine agriculture is a food and agricultural system with economic activity of about $3.3 billion. Agricultural production (farming plus input sector) comprises about 13% of that system (~$435 million), food processing 30% (~$1 billion), and food distribution and retailing 57% ($1.9 billion) (Gandee). While farming is distinct from non-farm firms in the food processing and the distribution and retailing components, a number of farms do provide those services, albeit on a relatively modest scale. As some Maine farms find global commodity markets less attractive, opportunities to provide marketing services within the Maine food and agricultural system become more attractive.
This paper refers to this perspective as local agriculture, to distinguish it from commodity agriculture, although it recognizes that many Maine farms fall along a continuum between these two systems. Nevertheless, the distinction between Maine agriculture as a commodity producer/processor or as the Maine food and agricultural system is a useful one when considering the historical context and potential direction of Maine agriculture.
Agricultural land base.

In 1997, Maine had 1.2 million acres in farmland, a decline of more than 50% since 1964. Of that, 534,000 were in cropland compared to 894,000 in 1964. Aroostook with 188,000 acres contained one-third of all Maine’s cropland. Penobscot had 49,000, Kennebec 45,000, and Somerset and Washington 36,000 each. Five counties, Waldo, Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, and Oxford each had between 20,000 and 30,000 of cropland, much of it in areas under heavy development pressure (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

According to the State Planning Office, between 1992 and 1997, Maine converted 33,560 rural acres per year to development, a rate four times that of the previous decade, and greater than the cropland in nine Maine counties. That conversion had moved out from more heavily populated areas in the southeastern portion of the state to more rural towns with natural resource based industries. It has resulted in the conversion of a substantial volume of land used by the livestock industry to pasture animals and produce feed crops (Maine State Planning Office).
Substantial anecdotal evidence indicates that residential development pressure extends the length of Maine, boosting market values above values generated by agricultural production. In the northern areas the demand is for individual house lots and seasonal homes rather than commercial development, but the impact on fragmenting the agricultural landscape and increasing farming costs is similar. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (2003) recently published the results of a two year planning process to address farmland loss statewide.
Agricultural production is unevenly spread across the Maine landscape. Of the “big three” commodities, over 90% of potatoes are produced in Aroostook County, most of the milk is produced in a seven county dairy belt centered around Kennebec County, and most blueberries are produced in Washington and Hancock Counties. These areas become particularly vulnerable to price and yield fluctuations of their particular commodities.

Some historical context

Trends of farm numbers and size tell an interesting story of Maine agriculture that is somewhat different from agriculture nationally. Like all states Maine had substantially more farms at the beginning of the prior century than the beginning of this one (Table 1). As farming has become more industrialized, farm activities have been replaced by non-farm activities and labor has moved from the farm to non-farm jobs, many to the input or marketing sectors of the food and agricultural system. At the national level, between 1910 and 1997, farming activities and returns constantly declined while marketing and input activities constantly increased. As a proportion of the domestic food and agricultural system, farming returns declined about 65% while the marketing share increased by 35% and the input share by 40% (Figure 1). The Maine picture is quite consistent in terms of these shifts, with the input sector claiming less than 50% of farm revenues in 1950, but 70% in 1997 (Smith 1999).

Industrialization has also simplified farming systems and allowed farmers to operate larger farming units. By capturing economies of scale, larger farms can expand by buying smaller farms, a trend that continues today in commodity agriculture.
Specialization and economies of scale allowed by the industrialization of agriculture resulted in areas of the State specializing in certain commodities. Potatoes contributed 50% of total farm revenues in Aroostook County in 1910, and 83% in 1997. Dairy, the largest individual commodity produced in Kennebec County, contributed 45% of revenues in 1997 but only 15% in 1910 (Smith 1999). Consolidation, concentration and regional specialization marched together in Maine agriculture throughout the past century.
Despite the similarities between Maine and U.S. agriculture in the above trends, Maine has diverted from national trends in interesting ways since the 1970s. Average farm size increased from 105 acres in 1910 to 216 acres in 1980 and has since leveled off. In constant dollars, the average sales per farm increased nearly 500% from 1910 to 1980, but have declined since (Table 1). The halt to the growth in average farm size in Maine since the mid-1970s resulted from the entry of smaller farms, usually participating in local agriculture, rather than a change in the direction of commodity agriculture. In Maine, unlike most states, farm numbers remain quite stable and average size declines, even as commodity farms continue to get larger and fewer.

The increase in smaller, more diversified farms since the 1970s suggests a growing and potentially viable farming sector. This agriculture appears in at least two forms. One is a relatively small but quite diversified farm that sells its output to the final consumer who usually is a local resident or to a local institution. These farms are likely to be near population areas and are more integrated into their local community than their industrial counterparts.

Figure 1:

Source: Smith & Files

Another farm type seems to be proving viable at the mid-size range. This farm is moving away from the industrial model on the production side, but not necessarily the marketing side, although it may access higher value markets. Costs are reduced with a more complex production system, including integrating crops and livestock enterprises. The characteristics of these farm types are outlined in Appendix A.

Both of these integration strategies can leave more net income for the farmers involved, generate more value added for the total farming sector, and generally have a positive impact on the local community. They may offer hints to policy options designed to maintain farm numbers. As long as industrial agriculture efficiencies are driven by economies of scale, commodity farms will continue to get larger and fewer. On the other hand, small and moderate size farms can become an important component of the local food system. Maine may have a viable dual agricultural structure developing.

Table 1: Size Consolidation of Maine Agriculture






# of Farms















Source: Smith, (1999)


Despite a decline in total real value of commodity agricultural production, Maine agriculture has a number of strengths.

A diverse agriculture.

Maine agricultural production, compared to other states, is quite diversified. The largest single valued commodity in Maine, usually potatoes, generally represents less than 25% of total farm sales. Several states depend on a single commodity for 50% of farm revenues; Vermont gets 75% of its farm sales from dairying. Unlike most other states without a single dominant commodity, like California or Florida, Maine farm sales are evenly split between crop and livestock revenues and six commodity categories contribute at least 5% to farm sales. All these measures point to Maine being a relatively diverse producer of agricultural commodities.

This diversity has at least two major advantages. It provides some statewide protection from disruptive production and marketing episodes that result from temporary low yields or prices, and it provides greater flexibility to respond to changing consumer demands and market opportunities.
Farm production near consumers.

Many of our farm production resources are located near residential areas. While this can create conflicts between local residents and farmers over farm practices that residents may perceive to be disruptive, it provides considerable opportunity for farmers to market their product more directly to consumers and to sell product with a farmer identity. Both of these attributes allow farmers to provide marketing services and to tap into the substantial amount of marketing margins in the food and agricultural system.

A large local market relative to farm production.

In addition to proximity to consumers, Maine farmers also enjoy a relatively large local market relative to the value of farm sales. Maine households purchase about $3 billion of food products and services annually. Maine farmers currently contribute less than 4% of that value. If farmers provided 10% of Maine consumers’ food goods and services, farm income would increase by $180 million annually. There appears to be ample room for Maine farmers to grow this market segment.

A strong commodity processing sector.

Maine has a reasonably strong processing sector that contributes to the global competitiveness of Maine’s commodity agriculture. While only one major frozen fry plant remains in Aroostook County, it now supplies the fast food market, the premium market place for frozen fries and one unavailable to Maine farmers in the past.2 A number of smaller firms process an array of other potato products that respond to changing consumer demands.

About half the milk produced on Maine farms is processed in one of the State’s four processing facilities, two of which remain independent and locally owned although one is substantially smaller than the other three. The other two plants are owned by national milk processing firms that purchased local and regional processors to achieve advantages of national milk marketers. Two of the plants are older and located within the city of Portland. The third is a newer facility on the outskirts of Bangor. The fourth and smallest is in Aroostook County.
Most of the blueberry crop is processed by one of the six established freezers in Washington and Hancock Counties. Two of those are Canadian owned with plants on both sides of the border. Blueberries move freely across that border.
Canadian management and capital.

While the composite relationship between Maine agriculture and Canada is complex and multifaceted, Canadian management and capital play an important role in Maine agriculture. Canadian management and capital support practically all the frozen fry processing capacity in the Maine potato industry and a substantial part of Maine’s blueberry processing. While there is considerable episodic tension between Canadian and U.S. agricultural interests, it is likely the Maine food processing infrastructure would be substantially compromised without access to Canadian management and capital.

A well organized industry forum

Maine agriculture is relatively well organized to reach consensus, develop strategies and promote solutions. The Maine Farm Bureau continues to provide a statewide industry voice for many farmers across commodity interests. All established commodity groups have effective trade associations although they assume various forms. Several newer and smaller industry segments are now organized into associations. Unlike many other states, Maine has a strong alternative agriculture association, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), with some 4,000 members and a strong lobbying presence, and an emerging Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society (MESAS).

All of these groups, as well as University of Maine agricultural administrators, participate in an umbrella organization, the Agricultural Council of Maine (AGCOM), that can provide a consensus voice for Maine agricultural production.
A climate of natural rainfall and pest suppression.

Although on balance our climate is a harsh one for growing several commodities and products, Maine agriculture has certain favorable climatic conditions. We have natural rainfall that allows production of certain crops for certain markets without supplemental irrigation. Feed crops and vegetables produced on good quality soils that do not require consistent maximum yields are generally not irrigated. This reduces production costs for some farmers and capital requirements for farmers entering the industry. However, in some years, crops grown without irrigation can produce low yields and financial losses for farmers and lack of irrigation on much of Maine’s potato crop has recently been identified as a substantial industry constraint (Planning Decisions).

While our short growing season limits crop production, our relatively long and cold winters can substantially limit pest pressures. A number of pests do not make it through our winter, thereby increasing pest management options that can reduce pest management costs and may allow the capture of potential green market advantages.

Despite a number of strengths, Maine agriculture also faces weaknesses.
A land base limited in quantity and quality.

Relative to most other states outside New England, Maine has a very limited land base in both quantity and quality. With the exception of Aroostook County’s farming area, the Maine landscape is one of forestlands with occasional fields, often along river valleys. For the most part, contiguous farming fields are in the tens of acres, rather than the hundreds or thousands of acres found in other areas of the country. This limitation will become increasingly critical for commodity farmers who must compete in regional and national markets based on capturing economies of scale. As future efficiency gains call for 2,000-acre potato farms and 1,000-head dairy farms, fewer and fewer Maine farms, especially outside Aroostook, will find the land base to remain competitive.

In addition to a limited land area, outside of certain areas in Aroostook County and a few valley intervales, the Maine land base is of relatively low quality. The soils are naturally acidic and many are stony and shallow to bedrock. Substandard soil quality on many areas increases the cost of production for many cropping options.
Sprawl and development pressures.

Much of the agricultural land base, especially in central and southern Maine, is under development pressure. Across much of Maine, market values for agricultural lands exceed their agricultural production value. As more agricultural land is developed in an area, the more difficult it becomes for commodity farmers to remain competitive. In many cases they lose access to agricultural land and face erosion of infrastructure support. Much of the current development in rural areas is taking place along the southern and central I-95 corridor among a substantial volume of dairy and mixed vegetable production. Without appropriate land use incentives, development pressure means agricultural land is unlikely to transition to new farmers for agricultural use in many areas of the State.

A short growing season.

While Maine’s climate is difficult for some agricultural pests, it also limits crop choices. Maine degree-days are low compared to most agricultural areas in the U.S., substantially limiting our choice of crops and crop varieties. We can grow grain corn but Maine farmers cannot use the late maturing varieties that produce high yields and low per unit costs. Aroostook County’s comparative advantage is in potato production, but the short growing season limits production protocols that produce high yields like those in the Pacific Northwest, for example.

Limited water supplies

While we have more natural rainfall than some areas, the low financial margins associated with commodity markets increasingly require supplemental irrigation for commodity farmers, and Maine has limited access to water supplies. We lack large, easily accessible aquifers found in many agricultural states, and we have no river systems damned to provide irrigation water for agriculture. Concerns for wetlands protection require farmers to build costly catchment reservoirs from which to irrigate. With an increasing need for supplemental irrigation, lack of water access will put Maine agriculture in a deteriorating competitive position without effective policy support.

High input and labor costs.

Relatively high labor and purchased input costs put Maine farmers at a disadvantage. Most purchased inputs carry a relatively high transportation cost, and especially in the more central and southern areas of the state labor costs are high compared to other major agricultural areas. Many farmers express concern about a “lack of labor”, but it usually translates into difficulty to pay competitive local wages and benefits.

The Canadian proximity.

The Canadian factor is a weakness as well as a strength. While we get substantial capital and management resources from Canada, some important commodity markets are supplied by Canadian sources. Because of exchange rates, certain federal government programs and special agricultural trade regulations, Canadian competition, especially in the potato sector, is very aggressive and often perceived to be unfair. The Canadian problem, however, is more of a federal than a state policy issue.

Difficulty remaining competitive.

Several of the above factors will limit the ability for a substantial number of Maine commodity producers to remain competitive. Maine’s dominance in the national tablestock potato market has long since passed, and we no longer dominate our nearby New England markets.

Maine milk production is experiencing market trends similar to tablestock potatoes. Federal “market reform” of the dairy sector means further withdrawal of the federal government from market intervention. Maine dairy farmers are finding that the higher costs of producing milk in Maine makes it increasingly difficult to compete in the regional market in this less regulated market. In the long run commodity milk producing survivors will likely be those that can continue to capture economies of scale or adopt cost reducing strategies like intensive grazing.
The regional apple market represents a dramatic example of the difficulty of commodity competition for Maine farmers. Maine apple sales have declined over the past two decades, first from competition from Washington State, forcing a number of smaller orchards to sell out, and then from foreign supplies, including apple juice imported from China, that has resulted in the closure or downsizing of some of the State’s larger orchards. The apple industry is reorganizing into one that serves local markets and may represent a precursor to other commodity industries in Maine.

The above strengths and weaknesses suggest a number of opportunities for Maine agriculture, especially its farming sector.
Capturing local food expenditures.

Maine farmers can likely capture a substantially larger share of local food expenditures. Local agriculture farming is one of the few growing components of the Maine farming industry. Much of that growth has been in selling directly to Maine consumers, but there is increased interest in marketing through the existing local retail and institutional system. Much of Maine’s farmland is located close to local consumers and local agriculture farmers can capture economies of scope, gaining efficiencies from multiple synergistic activities rather than high volumes of single commodities. This farm type is more compatible with the fragmentation of farmland in central and southern Maine.

Maintaining a base of competitive commodity farms.

While commodity farms are declining in number, and will continue to do so, the Maine resource base can sustain a certain number of commodity farms in certain areas for the foreseeable future. Given the existing infrastructure support and human resource capacity, those farms should continue to produce economic returns to farm families, employees and rural communities, although the number of employees per unit of output will continue to decline. Much of the output will reach consumers through in-state processing firms, further contributing to Maine’s economic base.

Diversifying farming systems.

Diverse production and marketing systems, even without livestock and cropping integration, can generate economies of scope, especially in providing marketing services. Economies of scope in providing marketing services, especially within a local food system, often compensates for the lack of economies of scale experienced by Maine’s smaller but more diverse farming systems.

Integrating livestock and cropping enterprises.

A number of Maine farms are demonstrating that farming systems that integrate livestock and cropping enterprises can reduce the need for purchased inputs, especially chemical fertilizers, and reduce production costs. Integrating cropping and livestock systems also provides environmental benefits and can increase soil quality, resulting in long term yield increases. Because of the extent of geographic separation of enterprise types existing in Maine agriculture, the potential for gain is extensive if the management of these more complex systems can be worked out. That will mean, among other impacts, an increase in cash crop farming in the central Maine dairy belt, and an increase in livestock production in the potato areas of northern Maine.

Finding a shared vision and common policy.

Finding a shared vision -- an agreement on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities -- will be necessary if Maine agriculture is to adjust to the changing agricultural environment that is beyond its control. A shared vision should drive State policies and resources towards opportunities that are achievable and have the best payoff for the State. That challenge is aided in Maine by the industry’s organizational structure currently in place.

Maintaining an adequate land base.

Maintaining an adequate agricultural land base is a substantial policy challenge for Maine. Many agricultural land protection programs tend to reduce, or threaten to reduce, the asset value of farmland owners. Without an adequate land base, however, farming opportunities cannot be captured. In much of Maine farmland is under severe development pressures. That pressure must be adequately resolved in favor of maintaining land in agriculture if Maine agriculture is to remain viable.

Transitioning agricultural resources.

Responding to opportunities will likely require transitioning some existing agricultural resources to new uses. In many cases, the financial and natural resources will transition without the existing farmers. Many farmers choose their trade because they enjoy the production process and will be reluctant to shift to systems that require more attention to providing marketing services. Transitioning farm resources without the current farmer may be challenging.

Supporting entry farmers.

Assuring that new farmers have access to agricultural resources is critical if Maine is to maintain farm numbers. Unlike earlier years, many new entrants, especially those in the growing local agriculture segment, are not from farm backgrounds. They have no farm to take over. They must assemble a comprehensive package, usually with third party financing.

In other cases, farms transfer within families. The substantial value of assets to be transferred, and the limited liquidity often associated with them, presents challenges to the exiting – and often retiring – farmer as well as the entering generation.
Enlisting and directing R & D.

Research and development will continue to be essential for commodity farmers to remain competitive, especially as Maine farmers find themselves increasingly relying upon markets for higher valued products. In addition, if integrated farming systems are potentially beneficial, considerable research will have to be conducted to develop methods for managing these more complex systems. For at least a century, most agricultural research has focused on simplifying farming systems. Shifting research to support more complex systems may require considerable change in agricultural research direction.

Assuring effective and efficient regulations.

Farmers manage substantial land resources that can impact the environment and they employ a substantial number of workers, including seasonal and migrant workers. Consequently, they can face substantial environmental and labor regulations. Regulatory protocols should be effective in achieving their purpose and efficient for both regulator and regulated in their implementation.

Balancing marketing support.

Finding the proper balance between public support for commodity marketing that relies on external markets and for local agriculture that relies on internal markets presents a balancing act. External markets will consume the greater volume of Maine’s farm production, but local markets may provide the greater value to Maine farms. Finding and implementing the proper balance will not be easy.

New ways of thinking
Recognizing declining commodity farm numbers.

A decreasing number of Maine commodity farms will remain competitive in national markets, implying that support to industrial commodity farming must be carefully targeted. Many commodity farms will likely have to exit or transition to other farming systems. Misdirected public support will slow necessary adjustments and limit new opportunities.

A growing local agriculture.

Local agriculture should be recognized as a substantial and growing component of Maine agriculture. It needs to move into the mainstream of the agricultural community and receive appropriate policy and programmatic support.

Sustainable rather than linear agriculture.

Maine agriculture needs to think cyclical rather than linear. We cannot compete by importing inputs with high levels of embedded energy. Using the outputs of our own agricultural activities or of local urban activities as inputs for other agricultural activities will contribute to a more viable agricultural future but will require a reconception of the agricultural enterprise.

Multifunctionality of Maine farms important.

We need to recognize that farms provide a number of public amenities, like open space and recreational opportunities, that Maine residents value but do not purchase in the marketplace. These benefits, often referred to as multifunctional farm outputs, require public support. We need policies to assure that these benefits can continue to be provided.

Shared vision as guide.

State agricultural policy should be guided by a shared vision rather than by interest groups within and outside the industry. For a more viable future agriculture in Maine, a shared vision must trump special interests in the development of public policy and delivery of public services.

Maine agriculture has historically adapted to changing environments. It will continue to do so. The result of that adaptation will not look like agriculture in major production areas of the country. The vitality of Maine agriculture rests less on our ability to copy other agricultural areas and more on our ability to innovate with our own resources and constraints.

Appendix A: Integrating enterprises on mid-sized farms
While it is sometimes difficult to statistically demonstrate the trend of mid-sized farms adopting integration strategies, it can be observed anecdotally. One case is management intensive rotational grazing (MIRG), especially in the dairy sector. A substantial number of Maine dairy farmers have found that they can reduce costs by intensively managing their pastures with a series of paddocks, displacing much of the forage produced by row cropping and the grain previously imported from the mid-west. A recent survey of dairy farms in central Maine indicates that more than half are doing some degree of MIRG.

Another example is integrating cash crops and livestock enterprises. This is taking at least two forms. In one case dairy farms are adding vegetable production on the same farm. Agriculture Commissioner Spear’s family farm is a good example of that kind of farm structure change. In another form, two different commodity farms are cooperating to manage their land base as a single unit. The Fogler/Dorman dairy/potato operation in Exeter is a prominent case, although there are others in that same area and around the state. Recent work at the University of Maine indicates that integrating potatoes and dairy can increase both net farm income and farming value added substantially (Files).


Files, Andrew C. 1999. The Impacts of Integrating Livestock with Potato Cropping in Aroostook County, Maine: An Economic Analysis. University of Maine, Department of Resource Economics and Policy, Orono, Maine

Gandee, Jesse. 2002. Economic Impact of the Maine Food System and Farm Vitality Policy Implications. A Report to the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry of the 120th Maine Legislature. Augusta, ME
Maine Department of Agriculture, Food & Rural Resources. 2003. Saving Maine’s Farmland: A Collaborative Action Plan. Augusta, ME
Maine State Planning Office. 2001. Fishing, Farming and Forestry: Resources for the Future. Augusta, ME
Planning Decisions. 2003. A Study of the Maine Potato Industry. Maine Potato Board. Presque Isle, ME
Smith, Stewart. 1999. Leaks, Leaps and Struggles: Farms and Farming in Maine from 1910-1997. Proceedings of the Maine Rural Development Council Annual Forum. Orono, ME
Smith, Stewart N. and Andrew C. Files, 1999. Farming Share of the Domestic Food and Agricultural System: An Analysis of Recent Trends. A Report to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program of the USDA, Washington, D.C., September 29, 1999.
United States Department of Agriculture, 1997. Census of Agriculture. Washington, D.C.

1 Since aquaculture is not considered part of agriculture in this project, this paper does not include those sales, which generally add about $40-50 million to Maine farm sales when included.

2 On the negative side the industry depends on this single firm, McCain Foods, a privately held Canadian company, to take 30% of the annual Maine potato crop. A single decision could wreck havoc on Maine’s largest commodity producing sector.

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