Republican Rep. Wayne Parry's bill would require the state to value the land as if it weren't contaminated with PFAS.
In this April 15, 2022, file photo, Fred Stone leads a calf on his farm in Arundel. Stone can no longer sell the milk his cows produce because of high levels of PFAS on his land. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A Maine lawmaker has proposed a bill to require the state to offer to buy out farmers whose land was contaminated by long-lasting chemicals caused by the spreading of sludge.

Republican Rep. Wayne Parry’s bill would require the state to value the land as if it weren’t contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” and sets a minimum price of $20,000 per acre, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began an effort in 2021 to try to limit pollution from the chemicals, which are linked to health problems including cancer and low birth weight. PFAS-tainted sewage sludge has long been used as fertilizer.

Parry’s bill has generated pushback from some lawmakers and environmental advocates who believe the minimum price per acre is too high. Federal statistics say Maine farmland is valued at closer to $3,000 per acre.