AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage walked the show floor at the Augusta Civic Center on Tuesday, stopping to speak with farmers attending Maine’s 72nd annual Agricultural Trades Show. He was joined on the floor by Walt Whitcomb, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (ACF), which is hosting the three-day event.
The Governor also took part in honoring the legacy of Russell Libby, who was named the recipient of the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award for 2013. Commissioner Whitcomb told a luncheon gathering of 350 that “for everyone in this room, the words ‘organic farming’ are synonymous with Russell Libby in the state of Maine.”
Mr. Libby, a longtime executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, passed away in early December, and his family attended the Commissioner’s Luncheon as guests of honor. Governor LePage presented the award to Mary Anne Libby, Russell’s spouse, who was joined on the podium by Ronda Nichols of Stockton Springs, Russell’s sister, and two of his daughters, Anna Libby of Orono and Maisey Libby of Mount Vernon. They received a lengthy standing ovation by everyone in the Civic Center’s huge banquet hall.
In addition to honoring Russell Libby, the Governor also pointed out that our agricultural industry is part of Maine’s heritage and has a huge role to play in making Maine prosperous. “Ours is a beautiful state,” he said at the luncheon, “and with our forests, farms and coastline, there is no reason we cannot lead the nation with our thriving natural-resource based economy. We can compete globally with our products thanks to the hard work and innovation from farmers like the ones I see here today.”
The Governor and Commissioner Whitcomb also spoke to members of the agriculture community about the success of last year’s merger of the Department of Agriculture and Department of Conservation into one agency, which has already resulted in improved delivery of coordinated services to constituents and increased resources for agricultural programs.
“The additional assets of the now-combined departments give us more resources as we widen our expertise in the continuously growing fields of food and fiber production,” Commissioner Whitcomb said.
The Agricultural Trades Show, one of the State’s premier agricultural events, continues on Wednesday and Thursday and offers free admission. All told, organizers expect more than 5,000 farmers, woodland owners, livestock breeders, equipment suppliers and interested visitors. This year’s show features dozens of lectures, demonstrations and meetings involving some 40 major agricultural organizations and agencies, as well as more than 150 exhibits featuring the latest in agricultural and forestry products, equipment and services.
The show offers a wealth of knowledge for non-farmers to learn about agriculture and how locally grown food is harvested and processed. As more Mainers look to grow their own gardens and raise animals, workshops will be available for these beginning farmers to understand what it takes to start a small farm and get assistance in creating a plan.
One of the show’s highlights will take place Wednesday afternoon with the annual finals competition for the best home-baked pie, as selected by agricultural fairs last summer.
The show will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10. The complete program and schedule are available at: www.maine.gov/acf/. For more information, contact ACF by telephone at 207-287-3419 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 9, 2013
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry