To read the full testimony delivered by IATP Senior Attorney Sharon Treat in support of LD 2013, "An Act Relating to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Contamination in the State" on March 15, 2022, please download a PDF.
Watch a recording of the hearing.
Senator Dill and Representative O’Brien and honorable members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. My name is Sharon Treat and I live in Hallowell. I am Senior Attorney for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), on whose behalf I am testifying today in support of LD 2013, "An Act Relating to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Contamination in the State". IATP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota with offices in Hallowell, Maine and other locations. IATP works closely with farmers and seeks to promote local, sustainable and environmentally beneficial agriculture and trade policies. We have been following PFAS issues across the country and especially in Maine, where we have taken a strong interest in how PFAS contamination has affected farmers and agriculture.
FUNDING IS NEEDED FOR MEDICAL MONITORING AND FARMER ASSISTANCE.
Funding is necessary to address needs that currently go beyond site investigation, testing and remediation. These needs include (1) paying for medical monitoring of those exposed to high levels of PFAS; (2) assisting farmers facing a catastrophic situation not of their own making, by replacing lost income, helping to pivot to alternative crops or alternative fields and, and for some, relocating their farms through a state buy-back program; and (3) targeted research that directly assists farmers such as research related to food safety, identifying crops that could be safely planted on contaminated soils, whether there are soil remediation techniques that work and are cost-effective.
The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has already identified many of these needs, but the funding that has been appropriated to date, while millions of dollars, is nevertheless insufficient. We are in strong support of appropriating the $100 million proposed by LD 2019. DACF has proposed using a supplemental budget allocation to replace a year or season of lost income for farmers who have been impacted by PFAS contamination. While this program is welcome, farmers need more. Given the significant revenue surplus Maine is experiencing, this is the time to set aside some of this one-time money for a program to help save Maine’s agricultural economy.
We know that at least nine farms are already impacted including three dairies and 5 vegetable farms. Another 30 farms are, according to DEP, most likely to be found to be contaminated based on a review of sludge and septage permits. Income replacement for a year at 35 farms could top $35M, and the cost of buying farmland and relocating heavily contaminated farms could be $50M.
Medical monitoring will also be expensive. Hundreds of residential wells have been contaminated by PFAS, some measured at extraordinarily high levels. Farmers, their families, and their neighbors have been exposed to this water for years. Some have experienced severe health problems. Others have exposed their children through contaminated breast milk. They are worried and for good reason, but even if they have excellent health insurance, blood testing may not be covered by that insurance. Others lack adequate health insurance to start with. As we explain in APPENDIX A attached to this testimony, there is both state and national experience with medical monitoring and blood testing programs, and a strong rationale for such a program here.
To continue reading, please download a PDF of the testimony.
Watch a recording of the hearing here.