May 29, 2020
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Nine Maine agricultural producers will receive $1.36 million in grants

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Nine agricultural producers in Maine will receive $1.36 million in grants as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $45 million Value-Added Producer Grant program that will fund 325 projects across the country.

“It is important for USDA Rural Development to invest in these Maine agricultural producers that are using innovative ideas to add value to their product lines, thereby increasing agricultural/aquaculture production in rural Maine. These business development activities help to make diverse products available to consumers while supporting jobs and the local economy in Maine, said Virginia Manuel, USDA rural development state director for Maine, in a press release.

In Maine, nine agricultural producers have been selected to receive a total of $1,363,118 in Value-Added Producer Grants.

They are:

— American Unagi, LLC, Thomaston, $49,400, to assess the feasibility and marketability of processed products made from farm-raised American eels. Planning funds will support hiring a marketing consultant, performing consumer testing, nutritional analysis, and development of a business plan.

— Penobscot McCrum, LLC, Belfast, $248,000, to assist with personnel, ingredients, and marketing expenses associated with transforming raw potatoes into processed potato wedges. Working capital funds will help expand the existing customer by 300 percent over the course of the grant period.

— South Paw Farm, Margaret Mitchell, Freedom, $63,856, to promote and produce canned, organic marinara sauce and salsa. Working capital funds will support labor costs for processing, product delivery, and bookkeeping as well as assist in paying for marketing, jars, and product labels.

— Noami Brautigam, independent producer, Monroe, $24,145, to assist with the branding, processing, marketing, and distribution of organic winter greens. Working capital funds will support a marketing strategy that teaches Maine consumers to shop for fresh, locally-grown, organic vegetables year-round.

— Ricker Hill Orchards, Turner, $250,000, to be used for brand unification, expanding product reach nationally, and to increase production of raw apple cider vinegar, hard cider, fruit wines, and carbonated sweet ciders. Working capital funds will support hiring a marketing manager, enhancing online presence, and increasing production of all products.

— Avena Botanicals, Rockport, $250,000, to assist with personnel, processing, and marketing costs to increase sales of organic herbal products. Working capital funds will help expand the existing customer base and revenues more than 50 percent over the course of the grant period.

— Fuzzy Udder Creamery, Jessica Laing Dowling, Whitefield, $177,717, to pay costs to produce and market artisan cheeses from goat and sheep milk. Working capital funds will be used for marketing, attending and participating in conferences, packaging, labeling, and labor, in an effort to expand markets and increase customers.

— Thirty Acre Farm, LLC, Whitefield, $250,000, to expand the marketing and processing of sauerkraut and other fermented products made from organic vegetables. Working capital funds will support labor costs for production, packaging, labeling, operational and promotional expenses.

— Dogpatch Farm, LLC, Washington, $50,000, to brand and direct market pork from critically rare Mulefoot Hogs. Working capital funds will support labor costs for production, sales, marketing, and delivery as well as packaging, labeling and promotional expenses.

 VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farmstand ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.