Maine dairy improvement fund supported with casino dollars

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A bill up for approval Friday in Maine would allow dairy farmers to invest in their operation with a low-interest loan funded by revenue from the Oxford Casino.

The revolving low-interest loan fund would allow dairies to purchase capital equipment and economic stabilization. The amended bill is backed by the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee and could take effect before the end of the year.

According to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, loans offered to farmers would come from one percent of the gambling revenues generated by the Oxford Casino from the General Fund. An amended version of the bill would split the one percent between a loan fund and a dairy stabilization fund, supporting dairies when milk prices decline.

Sen. Debra Plowman sponsored the bill with the intent to keep dairies from closing and selling land for another housing development. Plowman considers the economic impact of dairies from the milk they produce to the people they employ and the grain and hay farmers buy to feed their animals.

The Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee would like revenue to completely fund the stabilization fund in its first year and split between the two programs every year after.

One percent of the revenue from the casino is estimated to be between $1 million and $300,000 per year.

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