Maine farmers and food processors, including nine in Aroostook County, will share in a $20 million federal grant aimed at expanding in-state production and processing.

Governor Janet Mills said the awards through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan will help farmers increase the supply of Maine-grown food and meet growing demand. The investment will create and sustain jobs in one of Maine’s heritage industries while “strengthening our food system, supporting economic growth and enhancing Maine’s national reputation for food excellence,” the governor’s office said.

The grants were awarded through the Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program administered through the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to support harvesting, processing, manufacturing equipment, and packaging and handling equipment. The Governor’s office says ultimately this will increase production and storage capacity, enhance supply chain resilience, and drive growth within the state’s agricultural and food economy.

Funding awards were approved for 64 farms and food processors in Maine. Farm businesses in Aroostook County that received a grant include:

Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Presque Isle/Caribou - $250,000

Aurora Mills & Farm in Linneus - $499,911

Buck Family Farms, LLC, Mapleton - $500,000

Circle B Farms, LLC, Caribou - $250,000

Fitzpatrick & Peabody Farms, LLC, Houlton - $250,000

Hatch's Custom Meat Cutting, LLC, Crystal - $381,789

Houlton Farms Dairy, Inc., Houlton - $497,550

McLaughlin Family Farms, LLC, Presque Isle - $250,000

Nature's Circle Farm, New Limerick - $250,000

Maine is home to about 7,600 farms of all sizes and types.  During the pandemic, Maine farmers and food processors suddenly lost some of their biggest wholesale buyers as many restaurants, schools, and other institutions with food service programs temporarily or permanently closed.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan invests nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to “improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs and build an economy poised for future prosperity,”the Governor’s office said.

See the full list of Grant Awards in Maine here

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