In this Thursday Aug. 15, 2019 photo, dairy cows rest outside the home of Fred and Laura Stone at Stoneridge Farm in Arundel, Maine. The farm was forced to shut down after sludge spread on the land was linked to high levels of PFAS in the milk. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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I have owned and operated McElwain Strawberry Farm in Caribou for the past 30 years. We grow strawberries along with a variety of vegetables and have a small apple orchard.

My most immediate concern is a bill in Augusta now being debated that would ban all sludge or biosolid applications either directly onto the soil or as part of the compost mix. LD 1911 is a dramatic, over-the-top response to the discovery of PFAS at a few Maine farms. The high PFAS levels at those farms were caused by the spreading of contaminated materials  decades ago and in my experience have nothing to do with what is used by farmers today.

Farmers like me across the state take advantage of organic material where we can. It’s a good source of nutrients for our crops. This ban will not only put farmers, but garden centers and nurseries at a competitive disadvantage.

I appreciate the Legislature looking at this aggressively, but some bills need to be debated thoughtfully. This bill will do more harm than good. Legislators need to look for a compromise that is based on science, not emotion.

This is a complex issue, but a total ban will wipe out an important agricultural resource. Let’s take some time, do research and find some middle ground that works for everybody.

Frank McElwain