April 16, 2013

Letters to the editor: Boost in promotion boon to lobstermen

Since 2008, lobstermen have been struggling to receive a decent price for our product. We've had many discussions on how to improve our current situation. This industry is poised to take a first step based on the will of the industry.

click image to enlarge

A Long Island lobsterman checks a lobster’s tail in 2008 to make sure it’s a keeper. If the state spends more on marketing lobster, “the worst-case scenario is that we could lose 1 percent of our gross, while standing to gain much more than that in return,” according to a lobsterman from Matinicus.

2008 File Photo/Gregory Rec

In addition to the broad support expressed by harvesters, dealers and processors at the Department of Marine Resources' outreach meetings, every major lobster association in the state has come out in support of the bill to increase the amount spent to promote and market Maine lobster.

The bill includes a sunset provision at five years as a safeguard if we are not satisfied with the results.

Harvesters have the most to gain through generic marketing, as it will eventually spur more competition for our product.

This has been proven in many other industries, such as blueberries, that invest in promoting their product. It will also create more transparency in the industry, which will lead to a better understanding of the needs of all participants.

We only need to increase our gross product value by 1 percent to break even on our investment. Every additional 1 percent gain could represent more than $3,000,000 for coastal communities.

To those who worry that the dealers won't pass on the profits derived from this, they should remember that the only time that the price trends upward is when demand outstrips supply, forcing more competition for the available product. If this were not a fact, we would receive one price all year long.

If we don't move forward with this plan, will the money we save by not doing so better this industry? Or should we make a business decision where the worst-case scenario is that we could lose 1 percent of our gross, while standing to gain much more than that in return! I wonder what Warren Buffett or some other top business executives would do?

Ira "Tad" Miller

lobsterman

Matinicus Island

Minimum-wage hike critics should attempt to live on it

I've been thinking about the minimum wage in Maine since Democrats in our state Legislature have put together a bill to raise it from its present level of $7.50-an-hour. It would be increased in three 50-cent steps, so that by 2016 it would reach the lofty level of $9 an hour.

The present minimum wage level was established in 2009, and the cumulative rate of inflation since then is 8.2 percent.

Now, if you were lucky enough to find a full-time job, minimum wage would give you a weekly income of $300. So in terms of paying bills, a 40-hour week would give you $24.65 less in buying power than it did three years ago.

As a retired teacher, I'd like to suggest an arithmetic lesson for Gov. LePage, Eliot Cutler and the Maine legislators who are opposed to increasing this figure.

First, go into your favorite store and make a list of the price of enough food to feed a family of three for a week. Then check the pump price at your local gas station and figure the cost of driving to and from work.

Add the cost of the average rental or mortgage payment in your area plus heat and utilities. Then add the clothing, health insurance and dental and medical costs not covered by insurance. Set aside a little money for repair and maintenance on your car.

How far does that $300 weekly paycheck go toward paying the bills? What "discretionary income" does it leave to support the state economy by consumer spending?

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