State

Maine agriculture officials accept grant proposals

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Division of Agricultural Resource Development at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) has released its Request for Proposals for the 2019 Agricultural Development Grants.

This program provides grants to conduct market promotion, market research and development, value-added processing and new technology demonstration projects. Public agencies, private companies (such as farms and food producers), and non-profit organizations and institutions are eligible to apply. Proposals due by January 31, 2019. The grants are competitive, and matching funds (which can be in-kind) are required.

Each year, the DACF Commissioner determines priority issues for the grant program. This year’s priorities include projects that:

  • assist farms in increasing sales to institutions
  • improve sales to local buyers
  • help farms diversify markets
  • help Maine farms adapt to drought and other climate-related crop disturbances.

The Agricultural Development Grant program was created in 1996, capitalized by the interest earned on the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund bond. Past grants have funded the development of new products, acquisition of production equipment, development of marketing initiatives, crop diversification projects, and more.

In 2018, LaJoie Growers, LLC of Van Buren was one of six successful applicants for a grant through the program. LaJoie Growers sought funding to expand their vegetable processing facility to dehydrate and mill beets. Company vice president Jay LaJoie commented that “the Ag Development Grant helped bridge the gap in overhead to start a new value-added product for our family farm. The application was short, simple, and to the point – very achievable, and not intimidating.”

A new Maine law, “An Act to Expand the Local Foods Economy by Promoting Local Foods Procurement,” will create new opportunities for farmers and food producers seeking to expand their local and institutional markets. Agricultural Development Grants are one way producers may pursue such expansion.

The Request for Proposals is available online at: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/grants/agricultural_development.shtml

For more information, contact:

Leigh Hallett, Director, Division of Agricultural Resource Development, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, at 207-215-7388 (cell) or by e-mail at Leigh.Hallett@Maine.gov.

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