Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants Now Available From MARBIDCO
Annapolis (May 12, 2015) - The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG). The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide grants program with approximately $30 million available for distribution in 2015. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital expenses in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.
MARBIDCO is making available Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) of up to 15% of the amount of a USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement. All applicants that meet the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment of matching funds to be included with their federal USDA-VAPG application. A MVAPMG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding.
The application submission deadline for the USDA-VAPG program is Thursday, July 2, 2015. Questions regarding the USDA-VAPG can be addressed to the Maryland/Delaware Office of USDA-Rural Development at 302/857-3629, or visit USDA’s website for more information: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html.
Applicants seeking to receive a commitment of matching funds from MARBIDCO must submit an application at least two weeks prior to the federal submission deadline. The deadline for submission of MARBIDCO applications is Monday, June 15, 2012 (or postmarked by June 12, 2015). Please visit the MARBIDCO website for more information and to download the MVAPMG application form: http://www.MARBIDCO.org. Questions about the MVAPMG may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at 410/267-6807.
USDA Announces $30 Million Available for Food Entrepreneurs and Agricultural Producers to Develop New Products
Washington (May 8, 2015) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is making $30 million available to farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Funding will be made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
"Farmers and ranchers are creative people who, with a little help, can put that creativity to work and improve the bottom line for their operations," Vilsack said. "Value-Added Producer Grants enable them to develop new product lines to grow their businesses and expand their contributions to our nation's economy. This support is especially important for beginning farmers, military veterans engaging in farming and smaller farm operations participating in the local and regional food system."
More information on how to apply is on page 26528 of the May 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 7. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due July 2.
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or additional uses for already developed product lines. Military veterans, socially disadvantaged, and beginning farmers and ranchers; operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches; farmer and rancher cooperatives; and applicants that propose mid-tier value chain projects are given special priority in applying for VAPGs. Additional priority is given to group applicants who seek funding for projects that "best contribute" to creating or increasing marketing opportunities for these type of operators.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded 853 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $104.5 million. Approximately 19 percent of the grants and 13 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. During the 2013-2014 funding cycle, nearly half of VAPG awards went to farmers and ranchers developing products for the local food sector. Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department's work on local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development.
Congress increased funding for the VAPG program when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since the bill's enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including expanding access to rural credit, developing new markets for rural-made products, and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
Maryland Value Added Producer Grants For Capital Assets Now Available from MARBIDCO
Annapolis (April 16, 2015)…. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make a product that is “value added.” Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or primary or secondary timber products processor, and have been in business for a minimum of two years.
Applicants can receive up to $15,000 for projects such as production buildings and major fixtures, livestock or seafood processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, creamery production equipment, timber or wood products facilities and manure digesters. Cash matching funds are required, and must be at least equal to the amount of grant funds requested.
The submission deadline for applicants seeking to receive MVAPG-Capital Assets Option grants from MARBIDCO is Tuesday, June 2, 2015; by 4:00 p.m. (Applications received in the mail with a Saturday, May 30, 2015, postmark will also be accepted). Grant award announcements will be made by early August. Late applications will not be accepted.
Please click here for more information and to download the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option application form. Questions about the MVAPG-Capital Assets Option Program may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at (410) 267-6807.
MDA to Introduce Farmers Market Finder – A Mobile Site for FMNP Participants
Annapolis (April 2, 2015) – Beginning June 1, participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), Seniors in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) and participants in the WIC Fruit & Vegetable Check (FVC) Program will be able to find farmers markets near them on the Farmers Market Finder, a soon-to-be-launched mobile site. The purpose of the mobile site is to encourage low income residents to use their checks at farmers markets and increase overall check redemption. Maryland is the first state to pilot this program.
“Studies show that growing numbers of low-income Americans who may not be able to afford computers and in-home internet access are relying on smartphones as their primary means of reaching the internet,” said MDA Marketing Chief Mark Powell. “While the FMNP and WIC programs provide the opportunity for low income participants to spend their federal assistance dollars buying produce at farmers markets, participants need to know how to find the farmers markets where they can spend their checks. We will still circulate printed materials, but we see this as a low-cost, effective way to provide them with additional information and to encourage them to use their checks at farmers markets to buy to fresh produce. These checks also provide local farmers with additional income at the farmers markets, so we encourage their use in any way we can.”
The Farmers Market Finder will list all farmers markets in the state that have farm vendors who accept FMNP/SFMNP & FVC checks. The site will also remind users how to use their checks at farmers market, remind them what foods are eligible for purchase, and provide links to videos and photos of farmers who participate in the FMNP program. The app will also provide recipes for fresh produce dishes. Participants can also opt to receive mobile text messages every month to remind them to use their FMNP Checks.
The FMNP/SFMNP is a USDA Supplemental Nutrition Grant Program that provides grants to state agencies to provide checks to low-income participants. Checks can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herbs and honey (Seniors only) at farmers’ markets. The top three reasons participants give for not using their checks is: Not knowing where to find the farmers markets, not knowing how to prepare or cook the produce purchased and not remembering to use checks before they expire. The mobile site is designed to address those reasons.
Last year in Maryland, 58,825 FMNP checks were used by WIC participants and 42,284 SFMNP checks were used by Senior participants at farmers markets. A total of $505,561 was paid to Maryland farmers who are authorized to accept these checks.
University of Maryland and Penn State Extension to Offer Food
Business Risk Management Class
Cockeysville (March 31, 2015) -- Because consumers have grown more concerned about how their food was grown and processed, every food business owner (and every farmer who is selling products directly to the public) needs to understand the ways that he or she can lessen the liability associated with placing food products in the marketplace.
To respond to this need, Penn State Extension, in collaboration with the Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center and University of Maryland Extension, is offering a one-day class, Managing Risk for Food Businesses, at the Maryland Agriculture Resource Center, 1114
Shawan Road, Cockeysville, Maryland 21030, on Tuesday, May 12th. The primary instructor will be Winfred McGee, Penn State Business Management Educator. The session will run from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will combine educational presentations, discussions with successful food entrepreneurs, and a highly interactive learning environment, to address the following topics:
- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/ Good Handling Practices- general procedures that producers and packers of farm-fresh products should follow to ensure food safety of their product—especially for products sold to large, national customers.
- Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Planning - Steps or procedures to eliminate or reduce hazards associated with food production – learning what the producer or his/her co-packer should monitor for food safety.
- Liability Insurance - The amount of coverage that is warranted and what purpose it will serve in protecting farm assets—learning from the experiences of those well and poorly insure captured in case studies.
- Allergen Warnings - Complying with FDA regulations that food labels must state clearly if food products contain any ingredients that contain protein derived from the eight major allergenic foods.
- Pro-active Recall Processes—Coding batches and keeping accurate records so that the entire product line need not be recalled in an emergency.
Registration for Managing Risk for Food Businesses, is $40.00 (includes lunch and all handouts,) payable by credit card or personal check. Please register by going to:
Workshops For CSA Operators to Highlight Membership Agreements and Labor Issues
Annapolis (February 03, 2015) – Community Supported Farm (CSA) operators or those thinking about starting a CSA are invited to attend a workshop focused on drafting better membership agreements and addressing common labor issues. The workshops are free but registration is required. They will be held:
- Feb. 26, from 9:30 a.m to 2 p.m., at the Frederick County University of Maryland Extension Office, 330 Montevue Lane in Frederick. Lunch will be provided. To register, call the office at (301) 600-1594 or register online at https://umecsaworkshop.eventbrite.com.
- March 3, from 9:30 a.m to 2 p.m., at the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), 50 Harry S Truman Parkway in Annapolis. Lunch will be provided. To register, contact MDA Marketing at (410) 841-5770 or register online at http://mdacsaworkshop.eventbrite.com
“This initiative is designed to help our CSA farmers develop strong risk management tools,” said Mark Powell, MDA Chief of Marketing. “We want operators and consumers to have successful relationships.”
The workshops are sponsored by MDA, the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC), the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the Maryland Farm Bureau, and Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Marketing Service grant.
The workshop will focus on common issues with CSA membership agreements used in Maryland, an overview of a model CSA contract developed for Maryland CSAs, and a look at labor issues faced by CSA operators in the state.
2015 Mathias Ag Program Open for Applications
Annapolis (December 19, 2014) — The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is pleased to announce the launch of the FY2015 Kathleen A. P. Mathias Agriculture Energy Efficiency Program (Mathias Ag program) to support energy efficiency projects in the agriculture sector.
MEA plans to distribute grants ranging from $15,000 to $60,000 for agriculturally-focused energy efficiency projects and will pay up to 50% of eligible costs for selected projects. New this year, MEA is expanding the program to include agricultural projects that incorporate renewable energy measures in conjunction with energy efficiency measures. Applications are due January 30, 2015.
For details, please visit http://energy.maryland.gov/Business/MathiasAg14.htm
MARBICO Has Moved!
Annapolis (November 2014) - MARBIDCO has recently moved their offices to a new office suite, just down the hall from their previous location at Clock Tower Place in Annapolis.
Please note that all phone numbers and staff emails remain the same.
MARBIDCO's address is:
1410 Forest Drive
Annapolis, MD 21403
Beginner Farmer Training Program Now Accepting Applications
Cockeysville (October 2014) – A unique, year-long training program for beginning farmers is now accepting applications for farmer trainees in the Chesapeake region. The program’s goal is to equip the region’s brightest new farmers with the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to start a successful farm.
The average age of farmers in the region is close to 60-years-old, according to the latest USDA census. At the same time, demand for fresh, local produce is also on the rise. A wave of aspiring farmers, young and older, are ready to take up the mantle, but obstacles are many: access to workable, affordable land; finding resources; and connecting with other new farmers, to name a few. Enter the Beginner Farmer Training Program (BFTP), now in its sixth year, which provides a comprehensive, year-long experience designed for new farmers ready to farm.
The BFTP is unique among farmer training programs across the nation in that it allows participants to work part- or full-time at their existing farms or jobs while completing training. Participants are encouraged to transition into farming with a detailed crop and business plan in place.
BFTP pairs trainees with experienced farmers who have already established profitable, sustainable farms in the region. In addition to this hands-on training, BFTP also provides classes, workshops, and field days. Speaking about his experience in the program, graduate Devin Barto said: “I believe that I could assume the responsibilities of a farm following this training experience because of the skills that I gained.” Barto now manages a large CSA at Pennypack Farm in Horsham, PA.
BFTP accepts applications from new farmers located throughout the Chesapeake, including MD, DC, VA, WV, DE and PA. To find out more about the program qualifications and to complete an online application, go to: http://www.futureharvestcasa.org/field-school/beginner-farmer-training-program.
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What's New at MARBIDCO?
MARBIDCO's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2014 is now Available!
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New! MARBIDCO General Brochure
To learn more about MARBIDCO, its programs, and how we benefit lenders and borrowers, click here for our new marketing brochure.
Two Oyster Aquaculture Loan Programs Available:
Maryland Shellfish Aquaculture Loan
Maryland Remote Setting Shellfish Aquaculture Loan
Farm Energy Efficiency Information
Rural Business Energy Efficiency
Improvements Loan Fund
Click Here for Application
Do you need an Agricultural Energy Management Plan done?
Click Here for Details
Interested in solar, wind or renewable energy, please visit the Maryland Clean Energy Center or the Maryland Energy Administration.
Installment Purchase Agreements for Easement Sellers!
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See Loan Applications Now Available
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Other Rural Business
News of Note
MDA Weekly Grain Marketing Report
Click here for MDA's Weekly Grain Marketing Report
Lender Requirement for Beginning Farmer Loan Programs
The Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy and UME's Beginning Farmer Success program have developed a fact sheet to help beginning farmers understand the various credit sources available in the state of Maryland and the requirements associated with each credit source, such as USDA's Farm Service Agency, a Farm Credit lender, or MARBICO. Click here for the Credit Fact Sheet or here for online information.
Keystone Development Center
Keystone Development Center (a non-profit, cooperative development center), is dedicated to providing technical and research assistance to groups who wish to organize as cooperatives. News and informative articles can be found at http://www.kdc.coop/blog/.
Funding Sources for Agriculture
Check out this list prepared by University of Maryland Extension which was developed to assist farmers and producers locate funding sources and technical assistance for their operations. The list includes funding sources from federal, state and non-profit agencies.
Click Here for Details
Are you looking to start a farm or
The Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center (MREDC) announces new website to assist the agricultural and natural resources community:www.mredc.umd.edu
Click Here for Information
"The Impact of Resource Based Industries on the Maryland Economy"
Prepared by: BEACON, Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University
Click Here to View PDF
2012 USDA Census of Agriculture
Maryland Niche Meats and Poultry Producers Directory
Maryland's niche meats and poultry producers and the Ag Marketing Program of the University of Maryland Extension have joined together to produce the first, "Maryland Niche Meats and Poultry Producers' Directory". The purpose of this directory is to help restaurants, consumers, food brokers, producers, or anyone looking to purchase the freshest, best quality farm-raised meats available directy from Maryland farmers who raise it. Farmers' Market Masters can use the directory to locate and recruit vendors from Maryland's rapidly growing number of farmers' markets.
This directory has been organized by product for ease of aggregating suppliers. Many producers offer multiple products. The list is always growing and expanding, so the latest listings will be available online at:
Ag Marketing web site link: http://extension.umd.edu/agmarketing
Start2Farm and Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program was developed to assist people new to farming or ranching and those who have less than 10 years experience.
Farmers Market Directory
Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans
Annie's Project focuses on many aspects of farm management and is designed to empower women in overall farm decision making. Visit Annie's online at:
The Keystone Development Center's mission is to sustain communities, economies, and resources in rural areas through cooperatively owned businesses. For more information click on www.kdc.coop/welcome.
USDA: Know Your Farmer Know Your Food
Maryland Rural Enterprise
Development Center (MREDC)
Find the Best Local products
from Maryland Farmers: www.marylandsbest.net
Maryland Agriculture Exchange: Buy, Sell and Trade Agricultural products: www.agtrader.org
Find local products in grocery stores, restaurants and farmer's markets: www.localharvest.org
Celebrate local sustainable food and
serve healthy food choices: www.sustainabletable.org