AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources seeks project applications for its 2021 Agricultural Development Grant  program.

The bureau expects to award up to $250,000 this year.

The program supports projects involving market research, market promotion, and testing and demonstrating new technologies. Additional priority will be given to projects focused on: helping farms diversify products and markets and/or adapt sales and marketing models to better weather market disruptions, including those caused by COVID-19; creating new opportunities for multiple farms to expand access to local and regional markets; enhancing fiber production or value-added food production opportunities for products containing all, or a majority of, Maine-grown ingredients/materials; providing processing infrastructure opportunities for agricultural products from more than one farm; or improving adaptation and increasing resilience to climate-related crop or livestock disturbances in support of long-term farm vitality and productivity.

“We acknowledge the critical and ongoing need to invest in agriculture,” DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal said in a news release from the department. “This round of Agricultural Development Grant funding will help to spur the continued innovation of agricultural producers and food businesses, and support them in their efforts to create sustainable growth in Maine’s agricultural sector.”

The program “annually brings forward an impressive array of applicants pursuing an exciting range of market development or promotional concepts or technological advances in agriculture,” said Nancy McBrady, director of the Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. “We anticipate a competitive field in 2021.”

Maine-based individuals, private for-profit businesses (like farms and food producers), nonprofits, and organizations (including public agencies) are eligible to apply. Download the 2021 ADG Request for Applications at maine.gov. The application deadline is Thursday, April 22.

Maine’s 2020 ADG awards supported expanding hops production, introducing and optimizing novel small-scale grain hullers and transplanters, increasing production capabilities to meet sea vegetable product demand, and other agriculture-related projects.

For more information, visit [email protected].

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