Mills Administration Announces 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grants

November 15, 2021

For more information contact: Jim Britt at:

AUGUSTA - The Mills Administration announced today that it is awarding a total of nearly $500,000 to seven Maine organizations to invest in innovative technologies and grow new markets for Maine's specialty crops. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is awarding $492,039 to Blue Barn LLC, Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, Daybreak Growers Alliance, Maine Flower Collective, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Potato Board, and the University of Maine for projects that will expand research and innovation and strengthen agricultural sectors in Maine.

"This year's Specialty Crop Block Grant recipients are representative of the forward-thinking innovation our agricultural sector embodies," commented DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. "From collaborative equipment sharing initiatives to researching cultural practices to reduce the incidence and spread of potato virus Y, the Department is proud to support these producers in their efforts to grow new markets and test technologies that enhance the resilience and sustainability of our production systems."

"The Specialty Crop Block Grants are an opportunity for Maine agriculture to shine. The Department is consistently impressed by the caliber of the applicants and the dynamic proposals to expand, research, and strengthen various agricultural sectors within the state," commented BAFRR Director Nancy McBrady.

Maine's 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Recipients include:

  • Blue Barn LLC, "The Millennial Opportunity: Expanding Supply, Demand, and Infrastructure for a New Era of Maine Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine," $62,800.00
  • Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, "Creating a replicable farm equipment sharing cooperative for growers using soil-steaming technology in their hoop-house production," $40,642.00
  • Daybreak Growers Alliance, "Expanding on Daybreak Growers Alliance's wholesale aggregation, marketing and distribution model for Maine Specialty Grown Crops," $28,740.00
  • Maine Flower Collective, "Formation of Maine Flower Collective: A cooperative to enhance the competitiveness and market reach of Maine's cut flowers," $90,200.00
  • Maine Potato Board, "Investigating Cultural Practices to Improve Integrated Pest Management Practices for Potato Virus Y (PVY) of Potato," $79,245.00
  • Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, "Maine Produce Safety Improvement Project II," $90,518.00
  • University of Maine System - School of Food and Agriculture, "Exploring Fertilizers, Soil Amendments, and Pollination as Tools to Improve Wild Blueberry Resilience to Warming," $99,894.00

DACF will apply $32,000 of funding to develop a digital library to offer lectures, workshops, and educational content for Maine specialty crop producers and develop a PSA campaign to promote the sale of Maine specialty crop fruits and vegetables across New England. Find more information about current and past SCBG projects on the DACF webpage.

The federal Specialty Crop Block Grant program is intended to increase the competitiveness of non-commodity crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Through the block grant model, the federal government awards funding to individual state agricultural agencies to make local decisions about allocating the funds. Typically, the DACF releases an SCBG Request for Proposals in February, with applications due in March or April. Since 2002, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has awarded over $7 million to DACF to support the growing number of specialty crop producers selling into local and regional markets.