Thursday, April 12, 2018

Agricultural Development Grants Announced

Investments in Wild Blueberries, Vegetables and Organic Poultry Processing
LEGISLATURE’S HALL OF FLAGS – Commissioner Walt Whitcomb announced five (5) Agricultural Development Grant Program awards totaling $187,735 during Ag Day at the Maine Legislature. The projects address critical needs in the agricultural industry, Washington County in particular, for development of new markets and processing techniques for wild blueberries and organic poultry processing. They also include support for the creation of value-added vegetable products that can be marketed on a global scale.

“The investments being announced today support producers and processors of Maine wild blueberries; value-added vegetable products to compete in the global marketplace; and organic poultry processing in Washington County,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Maine’s reputation for quality, locally-grown products, combined with the resourcefulness of the Maine people, will help agriculture realize its full economic potential.”

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted Maine’s efforts to support farmers and producers through
enhanced marketing, technical support and promotion of Maine agriculture locally, nationally and internationally.

“Selected projects address critical needs in the agricultural industry, Washington County in particular, for development of new markets and processing techniques for wild blueberries and organic poultry processing,” said Whitcomb. “They also include support for the creation of value-added vegetable products that can be marketed on a global scale. We congratulate the grantees and look forward to successful implementation of their projects.”

The selected projects were chosen by a review committee from thirty-five (35) qualified proposals submitted in response to a formal Request For Proposals (RFP). Of those proposals received and reviewed by a committee in a competitive review process, five (5) projects were selected. 

FY18 Agricultural Development Grants

Blue Sky Produce (Scarborough) - $10,000
In order to help stimulate demand for frozen wild blueberries, Blue Sky Produce and 13 fresh-pack wild blueberry growers will conduct 40 educational demonstrations for fresh wild blueberries in retail stores in New York and New Jersey

LaJoie Growers, LLC (Van Buren) - $50,000
LaJoie Growers will expand vegetable and dehydrating processing capabilities to produce a value-added dehydrated beet product that can be marketed on a global scale.

Tide Mill Organics (Edmunds Township) - $50,000
Tide Mill Organics will improve its organic poultry processing plant in Washington County to become a State-Inspected Processing Facility and to develop value-added products, such as ground turkey and chicken, poultry sausages, and pet food.

University of Maine (Orono) - $27,735
Dr. Jennifer Perry of the School of Food and Agriculture will conduct research to optimize aqueous washing procedures for wild blueberries growers and processors to ensure improved food safety.

Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (Orono) - $50,000
The Wild Blueberry Commission will expand its marketing program to expand sales of frozen Wild Blueberries in the nation’s public schools.
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

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