Department of Agriculture Awards Grants to Maine Farmers

May 5, 2011

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 05, 2011

Contact: Adrienne Bennett (207) 287-2531

Judy Blaisdell (207) 287-3702

Augusta, Maine – Governor LePage announced today recipients of more than a dozen agricultural development grants that will expand Maine farmers’ access to viable water sources.

The Maine Department of Agriculture has awarded thirteen farms a total of $518,700 in Agriculture Water Source Development Cost Share grants for 2011. The grants are designed to help farmers build new water storages and drill wells, which in turn, increases the farm’s sustainability.

“Agriculture in Maine, including value-added processing and retail sales, constitutes a $1.5 billion industry,” said Governor LePage. “These grants are vital to farmers throughout Maine that generate this revenue and provide good jobs.”

Farmers who received the grants are required to match the investment, bringing the total capital expenditure for the water and irrigation projects to nearly one million dollars. “Providing investment support for farmers to build ponds and wells is important for securing our food supply and supporting rural farmers in our State,” said Agriculture Commissioner Walter Whitcomb.

According to Commissioner Whitcomb, the farms supported were both large and small, including small mixed vegetable, orchard, low-bush wild blueberry, potato and nursery farms. "These grants will make a big difference in helping farms protect themselves against drought," said Commissioner Whitcomb. "Farmers know that a dependable water source is critical to providing high quality products to local markets.”

“This unexpected help is appreciated,” remarks Dan Corey of Arrow Farms in Monticello. “It should greatly improve our crop quality and yields and with irrigation, should better stabilize our income going forward.”

The grant amounts ranged from $5,812 to $80,000 depending on the size of the project and the amount of cropland protected. There are approximately 8,100 farms in Maine on about 1.3 million acres. Farm-gate sales in Maine totaled nearly 676 million dollars in 2008, the second largest state in New England.

The thirteen farms awarded grants include Arrow Farm in Monticello, Broadturn Farm of Scarborough, County Fair Farm in Jefferson, Hope Orchards of Hope, Landeen Farm of New Sweden, Long Meadow Farm of West Gardiner, Perry’s Wild Blueberries of Addison, Pierson Nurseries of Biddeford, Rolling Acres Farm of Monroe, Stoneyvale of Exeter, Taylor Farm of Lyman, Thomas Farm of Corinth, and Thurston Family Farm of Peru.