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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2007
Contact: Don Cookson
207-626-8404

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap Announces Availability of New Specialty Plate 

“Support Local Agriculture” plate rolls out Oct. 1st

Augusta — Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap was joined by Commissioner of Agriculture Seth Bradstreet to announce availability of the state’s specialty license plate created to honor Maine’s Agricultural Heritage. “Much like farming, the creation of this new plate has been a labor of love for its’ supporters. I am pleased to know this plate will help to increase awareness and recognition for the over 7,000 working farms across Maine,” Dunlap said. Originally sponsored by Representative Wendy Peih of Bremen, LD 986, An Act To Establish an Agriculture Education Registration Plate was signed into law by Governor John Baldacci on June 28th. “Starting October first, people registering their passenger cars, farm and commercial vehicles may choose to display this new plate,” added Dunlap.

The plate’s design, the work of artist and Cooperative Extension Educator Charles Armstrong, shows a Maine sunrise along the coast, with trees, a farm and a silhouette of a farmer walking hand in hand with his granddaughter. The models were actually the artist’s own family members. “The future of Maine agriculture is the underlying theme,” says the artist, “and the passing of information from generation to generation, regardless of gender.” The plate is brilliantly colored orange, yellow, green and blue. The slogan for the passenger plates reads SUPPORT LOCAL AGRICULTURE.

The Maine Agriculture in the Classroom Association (MAITCA) was instrumental in the collection of more than 2,000 signatures and $40,000 from supporters of the plate. Their efforts allowed the project to move forward. Willie Grenier of MAITCA said the funds generated by sales of the plate will help fund agricultural lessons in Maine's classrooms. "Over eighty percent of Maine's children have no agricultural education in school," Grenier said. "Lack of funding for projects like school gardens, grow labs, and field trips severely limit teachers' resources. Maine schoolchildren need to be given the opportunity to learn where the food they eat comes from. The success of the agricultural license plate will help give them just that."

Agriculture Commissioner Seth Bradstreet praised Grenier for her dedication to the license plate project. “We are looking forward to the new license plate and have supported the project from the beginning”, Bradstreet said. “The support of the Department of Agriculture, Maine Farm Bureau, Soil and Water Conservation Service, Cooperative Extension and many other Agriculture and Commodity Groups has been essential to the success of this initiative.”

Additional information about how to secure a copy of the new plates is available from MAITCA. As with all specialty plates, an additional fee of $20 is required to receive the specially designed Agriculture plate. When the plates are issued, all pre-paid plate holders will be mailed a voucher to pick up their new plates at the site where they register their vehicle. For information and up-dates visit www.maineagintheclassroom.org, e-mail maitca@maine.gov or call (207) 287-5522.