AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage announced today he is working on a plan to merge the Departments of Agriculture and Conservation in an effort he says will “strengthen the natural resource economy.”

“Farming and forestry can be a significant part of our economic engine and both these industries are important to Maine’s future,” LePage said in a release.

Legislation needed to enable the change is currently being drafted by his office, he said.

“These two departments are very similar and today divide funding resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; it makes sense for these two agencies to work closer together towards economic prosperity,” he said.

The commissioners of both departments support LePage’s plan.

Efforts by the Baldacci administration to consolidate four departments – Agriculture; Conservation; Inland, Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Resources – all failed.

Lawmakers would have to approve any proposal crafted by LePage.

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