AUGUSTA — Public meetings are scheduled for later this month to gather suggestions, comments and ideas about the upcoming merger of the state departments of Agriculture and Conservation.

Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb and Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley encourage Mainers to participate in the forums, which will be held at the University of Maine at Orono on June 22 and in Augusta on June 26.

Two additional meetings in northern and western Maine will be announced soon on the merger website at

A newly enacted law creates a new Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry as of Aug. 30.

The new department will have 732 full-time and seasonal employees and have a budget of $96.5 million. It will be organized into seven divisions.

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