I am always proud to live in and serve Windham. We are an innovative community that takes care of one another. That is why I am so thrilled to announce the creation of a new program in our amazing town. MaineFirst Co-op is an initiative that will generate new jobs, grow agriculture in our state and, most importantly, support our veterans.
This collaborative effort was made possible by the United Farmer Veterans of Maine and North Star
Sheep Farm of Windham. Together, they worked hard to make this co-op a reality.
The co-op will be the future home of several for-profit business start-ups owned by at least 600 veterans from Maine. The co-op has already purchased the Windham Butcher Shop, which will be a huge asset as MaineFirst develops and grows.
I can’t think of anything better than a group that is dedicated to strengthening Maine’s economy and growing our agricultural sector, while assisting our veterans.
One of the goals of this co-op is to keep businesses in Maine. Currently, some farms have to ship their meat out of the state to be processed. The co-op will encourage local farmers and businesses to work with one another right here in Maine.
I was pleased to be invited to the unveiling event where the United Farmer Veterans of Maine and North Star Sheep Farm outlined what MaineFirst Co-op will do for the servicemen and women who have served our state. It was exciting to hear about all the great ideas they have and the benefits it will have for Maine.
Our veterans have put their lives on the line for us, fighting for and defending our great country, and this organization is a positive way to give back to those who have served.
According to the United Farmer Veterans of Maine, Maine is home to the fastest growing local food movement and home of the youngest new farmers in America. Maine also has one of the highest numbers of veterans per capita in America. This co-op is a unique opportunity to capitalize on that growth and to encourage more veterans to return home or move to our state.
Farming and agriculture is a critical sector in our state. In fact, the industry has a $1.2 billion impact on Maine’s economy. By attracting more families and businesses, we can help the industry to grow even more.
From 2007 to 2012, Maine was one of 19 states to see increased farmland and we now have over 1.35 million acres of farm land. And, according to the Maine Farm Bureau, 61 percent of farms are less than 99 acres and 84.8 percent are individually owned. This means that we have a lot of small, local farmers contributing to our economy.
With the creation of MaineFirst Co-op, we have the opportunity for new farmers to startup businesses and to create more jobs in this state.
I am so proud that it has started in my hometown of Windham. Welcome, MaineFirst Co-op!
It is an honor to continue to serve as your state representative. As always, please feel free to send me a letter at 166 Albion Road in Windham, call me at 892-6591 or email anytime at email@example.com.
Rep. Mark Bryant serves in the Maine House and represents part of Windham. He serves on the Committee on State and Local Government and the Committee on Transportation.