Infrastructure enchancment grant awarded to Black Acres Farm

Black Acres Farm in Wilton has been awarded a $224,500 Agriculture Infrastructure Funding Program grant that will likely be used to build a processing facility/business kitchen and improve its cold-storage capability. James Black is noticed with one of the most chest freezers lately used to retailer meat on the farm on Thursday, Sept. 1. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

WILTON — Black Acres Farm LLC has gained a $224,500 Agriculture Infrastructure Funding Program (AIIP) grant.

In August roughly $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act price range used to be allotted for AIIP in the course of the Maine Division of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The dep. is partnering with Coastal Enterprises Inc. to manage this system.

Around the state, 64 farms and meals processors had been licensed for a complete of $19.3 million. This system gained over 850 packages soliciting for just about $180 million.

“The AIIP will supply important investment for Maine farms and agricultural meals processors pursuing infrastructure upgrades that can mitigate the opposed results of COVID-19, building up capability, make stronger delivery chain resilience, cope with marketplace disruptions, and force expansion throughout the Maine agricultural and meals financial system whilst offering extra locally-available meals to Mainers,” consistent with this system review.

Senator Russell Black and his spouse Susan began Black Acres. The farm is now in a believe underneath their youngsters.

Son James Black stated he used to be made conscious about the grant in the course of the Maine Division of Agriculture e-mail chain.

“After studying in the course of the standards and objective for the price range, it used to be a super fit to what we now have been looking to do over the previous few years,” he famous.  “I had little or no hope of ever getting the grant particularly after seeing how aggressive it used to be. There have been 850 candidates and handiest 64 gained investment so we’re very thankful so that you can use this investment to lend a hand beef up our native meals machine.”

Grant recipients had been decided through an out of doors company the use of some degree machine, James stated.

“We hit all of the priorities the grant used to be searching for,” he added.

James, who’s finding out for his doctorate – he’s the foremost at Mt. Blue Heart College in Farmington – has had enjoy writing and making use of for different grants. He wrote the grant on his personal and didn’t inform his father he had implemented for it till after the grant used to be submitted.

James watched a part of the webinars held to give an explanation for the grant, then did numerous studying, he stated.

“I learn in the course of the grant utility, centered at the precedence issues,” he famous. “Once I learn the grant initially I stated, ‘Jeez, this suits proper into our area of interest.’ What we wish to do at the farm is precisely what they’re searching for.

“You spot those grants pop out. I’ve implemented for numerous grants prior to now and also you by no means know [the outcome]. I don’t know what the machine they used used to be however I put my knowledge in. We had been fortunate sufficient to get one of the most cash.”

James stated the farm will likely be hanging about $60,000 into the venture for hard work and building prices. The plan is to make use of an current concrete pad that already has water and electrical energy get right of entry to to construct a processing facility/business kitchen.

“You’ll be able to’t construct a lot of a construction for what we’re taking a look at,” he famous. “There are going to be numerous building, hard work prices concerned, in-kind cash within the venture.”

The power will likely be 52 toes through 60 toes, James stated.

“Concrete, the groundwork can value millions of bucks,” he added.

So as to resell meat merchandise, a slaughterhouse will have to be USDA qualified, James stated.

“Killing, doing that stuff is beautiful simple, doesn’t take numerous time,” he famous. “Processing an animal is the place the time is, the place the backlog is.”

Black Acres has all its slaughtering accomplished at Luce’s Meats in North Anson. They do a super task, James stated. Luce’s would had been nice to have this grant, he added.

“That processing time, flip round time, there’s handiest such a lot freezer house obtainable on the slaughterhouse and [at Black Acres],” James stated. “We more than likely have one week’s value of pork obtainable on a excellent summer season day now. This may occasionally let us have many weeks of pork, red meat and the whole thing else obtainable. The plan is to have it slaughtered at a USDA qualified facility, delivery it in refrigerated vehicles to procedure it right here.

“The speculation is expectantly as we rise up and operating we will do that for a couple of farms. There are numerous farms domestically promoting meat. There’s a wait listing within the fall. You’ll be able to’t get the rest killed, so I believe as we open up we will serve a couple of farms. That used to be one of the most priorities, with the ability to lend a hand different farms. We’ve a beautiful excellent machine the place we will ship an animal up each two weeks however for those who aren’t a constant client you don’t get the ones spots [at the slaughterhouse].

“We really feel that our manufacturing output might be doubled within the first yr and larger exponentially within the following years as soon as absolutely established. Our analysis means that domestically grown farm raised meats are in upper call for than ever all over Maine and there aren’t just about sufficient processing amenities to fulfill the present wishes. With this funding lets lend a hand alleviate that drawback and be a fashion for extra operations across the state.”

With the ability to procedure meat on the farm will give Black Acres the facility to temporarily reply to marketplace calls for particularly when unexpected problems stand up like COVID-19, James stated.

“Processing our meat onsite decreases transportation value in conjunction with packaging and processing prices,” he famous. “We’d additionally be capable of stay merchandise on our cabinets although different amenities close down because of staffing issues or outbreaks. As soon as established this funding will also be used as an extra income supply when processing meat for different farms.”

Customers had been on the whim of huge firms when COVID-19 hit, James stated. The meals machine nationally is a monopoly with transportation taking part in a big position, he famous.

“The problems we now have with our meals machine, on any given evening you’ll be able to move to one of the most giant field shops and meat will likely be lacking for the reason that truck didn’t display up that day,” he said. “This can be a fragile meals machine, it doesn’t take a lot to disrupt it.

“The silver lining to COVID-19 used to be simply seeing how necessary it’s to carry again meals domestically. There are numerous other folks concerned with it now which is excellent. It could be great to speculate extra in native meals.”

It’s beautiful simple for other folks to develop a lawn, however few other folks have a machine to boost pork or red meat, James famous. This can be a 24-month procedure to boost pork, 8 weeks for chickens, he added.

James stated he’s excited for agriculture to be coming again in call for, so that you can lend a hand out the area people with the will for contemporary meats.

“This is why I installed for this grant,” he famous. “With fuel costs and the whole thing it simply will get dearer. We will be able to carry meat processing again domestically. Everyone used to be getting their meat downtown 100 years in the past. It has modified such a lot.”

The capital funding can even assist in making Black Acres extra environment friendly and lend a hand cut back running prices, James stated.

“The extra massive bloodless cupboard space deliberate with this funding will a great deal cut back our power use through proscribing the choice of areas we will have to stay bloodless to retailer our merchandise,” he famous. “We can even have sufficient capability to care for a number of months value of product in case of primary marketplace fluctuations or pandemic-like shutdowns. The bloodless garage may also be applied to retailer unprocessed meat for later processing. This may occasionally permit us to raised set up our product waft.”

AIIP grant investment used to be dispensed to a mixture of other scales and forms of manufacturing throughout all 16 counties.

Farms may just follow for as much as $250,000. Farms didn’t have to supply a fit and there used to be no minimal quantity. Processing companies may just follow for as much as $500,000, additionally without a fit required. Relying on utility calls for, 50% of price range had been to visit processing companies.

The 2 number one objectives of AIIP had been:

  1. To offer an injection of important investment for Maine farms and agricultural meals processing companies that experience confronted and proceed to stand marketplace disruptions, supply-chain problems, and group of workers demanding situations because of the COVID-19 pandemic and similar public well being reaction. In particular, this investment will beef up tasks that permit farms and companies to extend manufacturing and processing capability through making an investment in infrastructure and gear; and
  2. To invest in Maine agricultural processors that help transitions to deal with new marketplace dynamics and permit long-term sustainability within the sector.

Precedence used to be given to packages that happy any aggregate of the next:

• Procedure merchandise supposed for human intake;

• Supply from a couple of Maine farms;

• Supply greater than 50% of product inputs from Maine’s agricultural manufacturers or growers;

• Supply processed agricultural merchandise for a couple of down-stream meals value-added manufacturers;

• Strengthen different Maine agricultural companies through sharing processing infrastructure.

Grant moneys are anticipated to be obtainable the tip of this month until there are appeals.

“I don’t know what that [appeals] procedure seems like,” James stated. “Optimistically it really works out and we will affect the native financial system, supply other folks with excellent merchandise. We can nonetheless be doing many of the promoting out of our present facility.

“I want extra farms in our space had been funded. Erica [Emery at Rustic Roots in Farmington] does a super task.”

This space has the capability, the land base to do extra agriculturally, James said.

“You spot hayfields far and wide which might be going through [not being used],” he famous. “We simply want to make the most of that stuff. We will be able to extend, it’s only a question of getting a processing facility that may meet our call for. This is going to lend a hand us.

“The call for is prime, the facility to get the beef available in the market is the fight at this time.”

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