Annapolis. The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) announced today the recipients of a total of $195,500 in grant award investments that will help a number of agricultural businesses with implementing value-added projects located in ten counties around Maryland. Out of nineteen project requests that were submitted in a competitive process, thirteen were selected for funding after a thorough review. These grants will assist the recipients in diversifying their businesses to include activities ranging from making cheese and ice cream to enhancing opportunities for agritourism.
The Maryland Value Added Producer Grant – Capital Assets Option (MVAPG-CAO) Program was launched for the first time during the summer of 2010. The program has now been established as a yearly offering by MARBIDCO to encourage Maryland’s agricultural producers to expand or diversify their business operations by installing capital assets to make or support a product that is “value-added”. A by-product of this effort will help to spur job creation and retention in rural and urban-edge communities. Eligible applicants must be a crop or livestock producer or processor, agricultural cooperative, seafood processor, or timber products processor. Selected applicants may receive up to $20,000 to assist with purchasing or installing farm structures and major fixtures, livestock or seafood product processing facilities, fruit or vegetable processing facilities, timber or wood products facilities, or manure digesters. And each recipient must also provide at least a 100% cash match. The average award amount in 2011 is approximately $15,000.
“MARBIDCO is truly delighted to be able to assist these small and typically family-run enterprises with matching funds to help further their entrepreneurial business development aspirations,” said Steve McHenry, MARBIDCO Executive Director. “It can be quite a lot of work, but value-added processing is a viable way for farmers to find new markets for their products, increase farm-gate revenues, expand local job opportunities, and help sustain agricultural operations for the next generation.”
“As exemplified through the grants announced today, MARBIDCO plays an important role in helping farmers innovate for the future and supports the health and vitality of Maryland’s traditional rural businesses,” said Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance.
The following is a brief overview of the thirteen projects selected to receive funding under the MVAPG-CAO program this year:
• Baugher Enterprises, Inc. (Carroll County) – Matching funds to complete the process of purchasing and installing pasteurization equipment for a cider-making enterprise.
• Mark Cascia Vineyards (Queen Anne’s County) – Matching funds to purchase two fixed top tanks with cooling jackets and two variable capacity tanks for wine making.
• Cedar Hill Farm (Harford County) – Matching funds to install a commercial kitchen on this dairy farm to enhance the family’s cheese-making capabilities.
• Boordy Vineyards (Baltimore County) – Matching funds to purchase software and equipment for the implementation of an innovative marketing campaign to expand a higher value niche market for Maryland-grown (rather than imported) grapes.
• Rocky Point Creamery (Frederick County) – Matching funds to purchase and install equipment for making ice cream and developing a farm retail/agri-tourism facility.
• Misty Meadow Farm (Washington County) – Matching funds to purchase ice cream making equipment for a multi-generational family dairy operation.
• Shepherds Manor Creamery, LLC (Carroll County) – Matching funds to purchase a yogurt fill and heat seal machine for a family-run sheep dairy operation (which is perhaps the only such operation of its type in Maryland).
• Chesapeake Bay Dairy (Worcester County) – Matching funds to purchase ice cream and pasteurization equipment for a family-run dairy farm (which is one of the last remaining dairies on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore).
• Kilby Cream (Cecil County) – Matching funds to purchase a cheese vat, cheese making supplies and yogurt making equipment on a family-run dairy that currently makes ice cream and bottles milk.
• Lockbriar Farms (Kent County) – Matching funds to purchase equipment for the production of fruit-flavored ice cream using farm-raised fruit and locally-sourced dairy products.
• Eve’s Cheese (Kent County) – Matching funds to purchase and install a milk tank for segregating Jersey (higher fat content) milk destined for cheese production on this family dairy operation.
• Nice Farms Creamery, LLC (Caroline County) – Matching funds to purchase a cream separator for milk production on this family-run dairy farm.
• Clemsonville Christmas Tree Farm (Frederick County) – Matching funds to complete a nature maze trail on this Christmas tree operation.