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To build Maine grain economy, advocates focus on infrastructure

By Anthony Brino, Bangor Daily News

When Eric Theriault’s father, Robert, started potato farming in Drummond, New Brunswick, in the 1970s, it didn’t go well.

He “lost quite a lot of barrels of potatoes” and almost faced bankruptcy, Eric Theriault told farmers at the Maine Grain Conference, held last month at Northern Maine Community College by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Theriault’s father also had grown cereal grains, such as oats, and made money selling seeds to other growers, so he focused on grains. By the 1980s he had a bustling grain seed businesses, with silos, dryers, a processing house and several hundred acres in production.

Eric Theriault now leads eastern Grains Inc. in Drummond, about 35 miles northeast of Van Buren, selling seeds and equipment to farmers growing grains for animal livestock feed or human food, ending up in bread, beer and granola. The farm harvests about 3,000 acres of oats, barley, wheat and soybeans, rotating on a variety of two- to five-year schedules with potatoes, grains, soybeans and clovers.

“The buyers are looking for quality and consistency and specific requirements now,” Theriault said. “It’s really complicated to harvest grain. To be able to focus on quality, you need the proper equipment to harvest at the right time.”

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