Pingree Announces More than $1 Million in Federal Funding to Support Maine Local Food Economy
Oct 5, 2017
PORTLAND, ME—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) today announced over $1 million in USDA funding to support a number of local food projects throughout Maine, including a $500,000 award to build up Greater Portland’s food processing infrastructure.
“Increasing the production and consumption of local food represents a fantastic opportunity for Maine jobs and businesses,” Pingree said. “From boosting local food processing in Greater Portland to marketing locally caught seafood, these federal investments will be terrific assets to building Maine’s food-based economy. That’s why I’ve advocated so hard for these kinds of investments in Washington and am actively working to strengthen them.”
Yesterday, Pingree introduced the bipartisan Local FARMS Act to help producers meet the growing demand for local products and increase consumer access to healthy, local food. Senator Sherrod Brown introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
The Greater Portland Council of Governments is receiving a $500,000 USDA Local Food Promotion Grant for its project, “Scaling for Growth in the Portland Foodshed” to address a lack of food processing infrastructure and an inefficient distribution network. The project will add processing capacity, reduce food waste by finding inefficiencies, and increase local food purchasing among retailers and institutions by $7.5 million.
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute will receive a $99,473 Local Food Promotion Program Grant to work with New England fishermen to address marketing local seafood to local markets.
“We are thrilled to begin working with regional fishermen to address the barriers preventing them from marketing their catch to local restaurants, retailers, and institutions,” said Kyle Foley, Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “What’s more, this is an exciting sign that the USDA recognizes seafood is an important part of our regional food system, which is great for both fishermen and consumers.”
Coastal Enterprises Inc. will receive a $36,637 USDA Rural Development Rural Microentrepreneur Grant to help microenterprises startup and grow in
rural parts of the state.
The Maine Department of Agriculture is also receiving $530,367 in Specialty Crop Block Grants to support a number of projects.
• A marketing campaign by the Maine Landscape and Nursery to support Maine’s Nursery and Landscape Specialty Crop industry.
• A marketing plan by the Maine Maple Producers Association to promote the growing state maple industry and increase retail sales by at least 10%.
• Research by the Maine Potato Board to improve Maine potato yields through crop rotation.
• A project at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to develop soil and climate-based phosphorus recommendations for the purpose of improving nutrient use efficiency and reducing grower’s input cost and environmental issues.
• A partnership between the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station and University of Maine Cooperative Extension to address microbial quality and safety of Maine maple syrup.
• A project at the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine to optimize inputs for wild blueberry weed and implement disease integrated management for Maine’s 510 wild blueberry growers with 44,000 acres of commercial production.
• AgMatters LLC will provide Maine Specialty Crop Growers assistance as they prepare for the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule.