Maine Gov. Janet MillsJanet MillsThe Hill's Morning Report - Voting rights takes center stage for Democrats Maine governor cites rising costs in veto of farmer unionization bill Seven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 MORE (D) on Friday vetoed a bill that would have allowed farmers in the state to unionize, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The proposal called for agriculture workers to be able to organize and bargain for wages, hours and working conditions.

“While this bill is well intended, I fear its unintended consequence would discourage the growth of farms in Maine,” Mills wrote in her veto statement.


Maine farms are mostly small and family-owned and do not need the same protections as larger factory farms controlled by corporate interests, Mills argued.

She said the bill would “subject our farmers to a complicated new set of laws that would require them to hire lawyers just to understand.”

Labor union Maine AFL-CIO criticized Mills’s decision, claiming that the bill would protect farm workers from abuses like sexual harassment and wage theft.

“Farmworkers provide the most essential service to our communities by growing, picking and processing the food we eat every day. They perform back breaking labor and are among the most exploited workers in our nation,” said Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director Matt Schlobohm.

The AFL-CIO said a lack of unionization rights among farm workers is a result of longstanding racism and fails to protect workers of color.

“This bill would have advanced racial justice and corrected a long-standing injustice,” Schlobohm said.

Some agricultural associations opposed the unionization bill while it was still being debated in the Maine Legislature. The Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association and the Maine Potato Board both agreed with Mills’s decision to veto the bill.

“Legislation that would restrict the ability to plant, care for and harvest our crops would risk the livelihood of Maine farmers and those employees that rely on the jobs Maine farms provide,” the Maine Potato Board said in a statement released after the decision.

Maine is the only producer of wild blueberries in the United States. The state also produces potatoes and maple syrup and contains large dairy farms as well as smaller livestock farms.