AUGUSTA, ME – Today, the Maine Farm Bureau, along with the American Farm Bureau Federation, recognized U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) with its 2014 Friend of the Farm Bureau Award. At an event held in the Maine Farm Bureau office in Augusta, Jon Olsen, Executive Director of the Maine Farm Bureau, presented Senator King with the award, which is presented to members of Congress in honor of their work on behalf of farming families in their home state. The Maine Farm Bureau nominated Senator King for the distinction, which was approved by the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors.

“Maine is home to a growing number of small, diverse farms, an expanding network of farmers’ markets, and a vibrant local food movement. And as a result, farm families in our state are not only an essential thread in the fabric of communities, but also a vital part of Maine’s economy,” Senator King said. “Maine’s farmers work hard day-in and day-out to put locally-grown food on tables across the state, and I will continue to work hard to support them in that endeavor by developing federal agriculture policies that support our state’s unique and diverse farming interests.”

Senator King

Since entering Congress in January 2013, Senator King has been a champion of Maine farmers. Senator King has been actively involved in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), engaging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on FSMA rules since they were first proposed in 2013 and emphasizing the importance of farmer participation in the rulemaking process to ensure that the rules do not unduly burden Maine’s small and midsized farmers.

He was part of a bipartisan, bicameral group of New England lawmakers that urged the FDA in May of 2013  to hold public hearings in New England to hear concerns from farmers, which the FDA subsequently agreed to, including one at the Augusta Armory in August of 2013. FDA officials also toured several Maine farms. King later joined an even larger bipartisan, bicameral group pressing the agency in November of 2013 to issue a second round of proposed rules to address the many concerns they heard from farmers around the country before issuing final rules. The FDA again agreed to do so, and released the second round of proposed rules in September 2014. The FDA is expected to finalize the rules in 2015.

King also introduced and ushered into law the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, the bipartisan bill allows veterinarians to legally carry and dispense controlled substances to treat animals on the farm. Under previous law, it was illegal for vets to travel outside of their registered place of business with certain controlled substances, making it difficult for them to legally treat large animals that farmers could not easily transport to the vet’s office.

King worked to make sure the voice of Maine’s farmers was heard during the debate surrounding the Farm Bill, which defines our nation’s agricultural policy for a period of five years. In a letter to the Senators Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran, Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry, respectively, he outlined several farming and food issues important to Maine.

Joining with Senator Susan Collins, King has consistently advocated for the inclusion of the fresh, white potatoes in the Special Supplementation Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Senator Collins secured a provision in the Fiscal Year 2015 federal appropriations bill that will require all fresh fruits and vegetables – including fresh, white potatoes – to be included in the WIC Program. The Institute of Medicine recently published a study that highlights the value of fresh, white potatoes and recommends they be included in the WIC program.

Following the award presentation, Senator King held a roundtable discussion in the Maine Farm Bureau’s conference room, where they discussed farming priorities for the upcoming Congress. King’s Augusta office is located in the same building as the Maine Farm Bureau.