AUGUSTA — Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced six (6) Agricultural Development Grant Program awards totaling $248,375 at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show today. The projects address needs in the agricultural industry for improvements in the profitability of Maine grown crops; reducing costs associated with drought or other natural crop disturbances; product enhancements for value added, nutrition, marketing and/or food safety; and national, local and regional market development.
“Maine farms have the greatest diversity of food production in New England,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “There is enormous potential to produce and sell even more Maine products and produce jobs for Maine people. The investments being announced today strengthen Maine agriculture and will help farmers and producers realize their full economic potential.”
Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted the efforts of the review committee and its careful selection of projects from dozens of competitive applications.
“Today’s grant announcements promote local, quality, sustainable Maine products, new Maine agricultural opportunities and ways of making traditional operations even more profitable,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “We congratulate the grantees and look forward to successful implementation of their projects.”
The preliminary selections were chosen by a review committee from 23 qualified proposals submitted in response to a formal Request For Proposals (RFP). Out of the total twenty three (23) qualified proposals received and reviewed by a committee in a competitive review process, six (6) projects have been tentatively identified pending approval by the State of Maine Purchases Division and the successful completion of a State of Maine contract. These projects have been identified as:
- Maine Aquaculture Co-Op of Tenants Harbor ($46,000) – Maine Scallop Aquaculture: Development of Ear-Hung Scallop Aquaculture Infrastructure through Cooperative Model and New Technologies
- Maine Cap N Stem, LLC of Gardiner ($32,600) – Project to Increase Production Capacity of B2B Mushroom Farm to Meet Maine Demand
- Maine Landscape and Nursery Association of Augusta ($50,000) – Plant a pollinator Garden! Promotion to support Maine’s Nursery Industry
- The Hop Yard, LLC of Portland ($19,775) – Creating Viable Commercial Hop Bales
- Undine Marine, LLC of Damariscotta ($50,000) – Construction and beta testing of the Mark II Submersible Mussel Raft in Maine
- Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine of Orono ($50,000) – Wild Blueberry School Foodservice Program
Agricultural Development Grant Program
In 2014, the Legislature approved Department language that improved access to the Agricultural Development Fund. The Department identified the agricultural industry need for accelerating new market development, adoption of improved technology and promotion of agricultural products produced in Maine.
The Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry may allocate the grant funds among projects involving market research, market promotion, or a combination of those activities for the purpose of expanding existing markets and developing new markets for agricultural products produced in Maine; or for testing and demonstrating new technologies related to the production, storage or processing of State agricultural products.
It is anticipated that another Agricultural Development Fund RFP will be released in the future.
—Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
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