ANNAPOLIS (April 13, 2016)—The Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has announced a grant funding opportunity to encourage Maryland's independent agricultural producers to engage in value-added activities and pursue financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants Program (USDA-VAPG). The USDA-VAPG is a highly competitive nationwide grants program with approximately $44 million available for distribution in 2016. These grant funds can be used for planning or working capital expenses in accordance with USDA regulations. Eligible purposes include feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.
MARBIDCO is making available Maryland Value Added Producer Matching Grants (MVAPMG) of up to 15% of the amount of a USDA-VAPG award to help an eligible applicant meet the non-federal financial matching requirement. All applicants that meet the MARBIDCO requirements will receive a commitment of matching funds to be included with their federal USDA-VAPG application. A MVAPMG monetary award from MARBIDCO will only be provided to an applicant that is selected to receive USDA-VAPG funding.
The application submission deadline for the USDA-VAPG program is Friday, July 1, 2016. Questions regarding the USDA-VAPG can be addressed to the Maryland/Delaware Office of USDA-Rural Development at 302-857-3629, or visit USDA’s website for more information.
Applicants seeking to receive a commitment of matching funds from MARBIDCO must submit an application at least two weeks prior to the federal submission deadline. The deadline for submission of MARBIDCO applications is Tuesday, June 14 2016 (or postmarked by June 13, 2016). Please visit the MARBIDCO website for more information and to download the MVAPMG application form. Questions about the MVAPMG may also be addressed by contacting Andra Davis, MARBIDCO Financial Programs Specialist, at 410-267-6807.
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) has established a Microloan Program as part of their Operating Loan program. Microloans have a shortened application process and are available for any amount with a maximum of $50,000. Loans from the Microloan program may not be purchased land, but may be used for operating expenses, including but not limited to: initial start-up expenses; annual expenses such as seed and utilities; marketing and distribution expenses; family living expenses, purchases of livestock, equipment and other materials essential to farm operations; essential tools; and delivery vehicles.
Qualifications for the Microloan program have been modified to accommodate smaller farm operations, beginning farmers, and those without farm management experience. USDA defines beginning farmers as those who have been farming for less than 10 years.
Microloans must be secured by a first lien on farm property or agricultural products having value of at least 100% of the microloan amount. Repayment terms vary, but will not exceed seven years. Interest rates are based on the original Operating Loan program rates. Rates as of Nov 1, 2014 are below.
Microloan applications must also include projected pro forma income statements. Matt Parker with University of Maryland Extension is available to help aquaculturists in MD in developing income statements and other required materials for the Microloan application.
For more information about the USDA FSA Microloan Program, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency office or visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=fmlp&topic=dflop.
Aquaculture Business Specialist
University of Maryland Extension
Prince George’s County Office
6707 Groveton Drive
Clinton, MD 20735