Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can Paul LePage read?

The five candidates for Governor spoke about agriculture on Tuesday and Paul LePage had an opportunity to address dairy farmers in attendance on how he would make life better for them according to this WABI report:

Candidates told the crowd, that included many dairy farmers, how they would make things a little easier for them. Paul LePage, the Republican nominee for Governor, says the State is taking too much money from local farmers. "I read the report from the Department of Agriculture to the Governor and every page had at least 3 fees. License fees, registration fees every page. It's a 20 page report. No wonder they're going broke, we're feeing them and licensing, and permitting them to death," says LePage.

A detailed search for this fee laden report did not turn up any sort of overall Department of Agriculture report to the Governor and I believe it is very safe to assume that Paul LePage is referring to this 20 page report: Governor’s Task Force on the Sustainability of the Dairy Industry in Maine (PDF) based on the fact that he was speaking specifically to dairy farmers.

However, the report does not contain “…at least 3 fees. License fees, registration fees every page”, and therefore a minimum total of 60 fees in the 20 page report. The word license does not appear at all within the covers of this document. The word registration comes up once in relation to farm vehicle registration in the context of a recommendation to exempt these vehicles from municipal property and excise taxes which would be the opposite of “permitting them to death”. And the word fee comes up 3 times in reference to the “handling fee schedule” and even then it appears once in the Executive Summary, once in the Findings, and once in the Recommendations. So that is 3 appearances of the word fee in the entire 20 pages, not 3 per page and most importantly these 3 mere words are all in reference to the same fee not 3 separate ones! So instead of 60 fees in the 20 page document, we really have mention of 1. Now, just be fair the word feed appears 5 times but even that possible comprehension problem is far below any reasonable counting error!

The report may not be a perfect solution to the difficulties facing Maine dairy farming. But a simple read of it demonstrates that it is from people who care about the industry, are concerned with its survival, are seeking to support it, and grappling with getting the right solutions in place for dairy farmers in a rapidly changing market. It is precisely the kind of report that one hopes to see government undertaking in an effort to support Maine farming.

There is little doubt that this is the report Paul LePage is referencing but please do challenge him to produce the 20 page report he referenced with the 60 fees highlighted. If he cannot, we need to know before voting if Paul LePage lied to us on camera and lied to dairy farmers or simply cannot read. In either case, he is therefore not fit to be Governor and should go back to his imaginary world of counting fees and buffalo.

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