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January 13, 2022

10 Maine ag businesses to share $2M in USDA grants

Farmers with animals Courtesy / Moon Root LLC Christelle and Jon McKee own Copper Tail Farm, a goat dairy farm in Wadoboro that will receive a grant of close to $250,000 to expand production, marketing and sales of cheeses and other products.

Ten Maine agricultural producers will share more than $2 million in federal funding for value-added activities involving the production of a host of products from blueberries to scallops. Many of those activities will add new jobs in rural Maine.

A total of $2,027,149 in funding has been awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Value-Added Producer Grant Program, as announced on Wednesday in a Maine Agricultural Trades Show virtual workshop.

“Through supporting local farms and agricultural businesses with innovative programs like the Value-Added Producer Grant, Rural Development is contributing to a stronger and more resilient Maine food supply," said Rhiannon Hampson, Maine director for the USDA's Rural Development Program.

"These grants help expand capacity and production while creating jobs, helping rural businesses to thrive," added Hampson, who recently talked to Mainebiz about wanting to raise awareness of what Rural Development does. She succeeded Timothy Hobbs as Maine director of the USDA's Rural Development Program.

The Value-Added Producer Grant program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. 

People holding a goat
Courtesy / Copper Tail Farm
"This grant will not only help our farm achieve financial stability, but it will improve the quality of our lives," said Copper Tail farm owners Jon and Christelle McKee.

Maine recipients include Copper Tail Farm in Waldoboro, which plans to use its grant of close to $250,000 to expand production, marketing and sales of goat milk cheeses, yogurts, soaps and cajeta, a thick caramel sauce made with goat's milk. 

"This grant will not only help our farm achieve financial sustainability, but it will improve the quality of our lives. We will use the funding to expand the production, marketing, and sales of our products," owners Christelle and Jon McKee said in a joint statement emailed to Mainebiz. "With the addition of a part time employee, we will have the time and resources necessary to reach new accounts in southern and western Maine. We are so grateful to the USDA Rural Development for providing us with this amazing opportunity."

Full list of recipients and amounts

Dandelion Spring Farm LLC, Bowdoinham: $250,000 to expand production and sales of organically produced vegetable and herbs. 

Blue Barrens Farm, Columbia:  $245,352 towards expanding production and distribution of fresh-packed and fresh-frozen wild Maine blueberries. 

Maine-Ly Poultry Inc.Warren: $250,000 towards expanding raw dogfood production. 

Passamaquoddy Tribe, Indian Township, and Passamaquoddy Maple, Jackman: $250,000 to expand distribution to grocery and specialty food outlets. (Passamaquoddy Maple is a tribal enterprise of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township.)

Moon Root LLC, doing business as Copper Tail Farm, Waldoboro: $249,989 towards expanding productions marketing and sales of goat milk cheeses, yogurts, and other products.

Olde Haven Farm LLC, Chelsea: $249,580 to expand productions, marketing and sales of pork and lambsausages, canned pickles, and preserves. 

Tide Mill Organics, Edmunds Township: $250,000 to expand production, marketing and sales of organic
chicken and sausage to out of state markets. 

Wandering Goat LLC, Union: $250,000 to expand production, marketing and sales of goat milk soap. 

Deep Blue Aquaculture LLC, doing business as Vertical Bay, Belfast: $24,882 to expand production and sales of whole scallops.

Brodis Wild Blueberries, Hope: $7,346 to assess the feasibility of making and selling value-added blueberry products in the midcoast region.

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January 17, 2022

Revenue from farming is very low and farmers have to find creative ways to keep their businesses alive. The expansion of sales from a value added product creates an additional source of income from raw goat milk. This income allows for sustainability for the farm, which can continue to offer milk, meat, and eggs to coastal Maine.

January 14, 2022

How is goat soap contributing to the Maine food supply? That does not make any sense.

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