HUGHESVILLE, Md. (July 28, 2017)—The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) announced three new programs specifically targeted to individual farmers.
SMADC's Agricultural Mini-Grant Program is open to applicants age 16 and older, residing and farming in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George's or St. Mary's counties.
Grant awards will be made up to $2,000 per applicant, as a one-to-one match and can be used for a variety of projects. Examples include the purchase of foundation livestock, purchase of plant stock, marketing and promotion activities, fencing, hoop house, and on-farm upgrades to enhance food safety. Administrative expenses and events are not eligible for program funding.
"The mini-grants program is great for young or beginning farmers that need some assistance getting started and also for more experienced farmers who would like a little capital to try out new ideas on the farm, or diversify their existing operations. We're excited about this program and we hope that many farmers will be able to take advantage of it.", said Shelby Watson-Hampton, Director of SMADC.
Along with the mini-grant program, SMADC announced two additional programs, offered in partnership with the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO).
The Southern Maryland Agricultural Equity Incentive Matching Fund was established to incentivize loan requests from Southern Maryland farms and aquaculture producers and to help them meet certain down-payment (equity) requirements.
"Commercial lenders typically require borrowers to contribute some of their own money towards the funding of a business project," said Steve McHenry, Executive Director of MARBIDCO. "The equity incentive matching money is going to be a significant help to Southern Maryland farmers, especially young and beginning farmers."
Under this program, the farmer applies directly to one of MARBIDCO's existing loan programs. SMADC will contribute up to a maximum of $20,000 towards a Maryland Resource-Based Industry Financing Fund Loan (MRBIFF) application and up to $5,000 towards the other loan programs to be used as a down payment (per applicant), not to exceed five percent of the project costs.
SMADC and MARBIDCO also established the Southern Maryland Revolving Loan Fund to assist Southern Maryland farmers with smaller agricultural projects that may not typically be financed by a commercial lender. "This loan fund is intended to stimulate the agricultural economy in Southern Maryland and enhance the viability of existing operations," said Watson-Hampton.
Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $20,000, targeted to three specific areas: livestock, small fruits, and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and food safety upgrades.
Under the livestock section of the loan, eligible uses include the purchase of livestock or artificial insemination to improve herd genetics, refrigeration facilities, fencing and animal shelters, etc.
The loan's small fruit section is intended to incubate the production of small fruits and increase acreage of existing small fruit operations. Producers may apply loan funds towards perennial, vine and root stock for blueberries, raspberries and blackberries and/or trellising and netting for small fruits.
The third section of the revolving loan program is for GAP and food safety upgrades such as drip irrigation, water treatment, irrigation wells, compost structures and equipment, harvesting supplies and packing house structures.
Additionally, the Revolving Loan Program includes an incentive for borrowers in good standing, forgiving 20 to 25 percent of the loan amount due at the end of the loan term (by foregoing the final one-quarter of amortizing loan payments).
Watson-Hampton said the three new programs, along with the Regional Agricultural Program (RAP) grant announced last week, complement SMADC's mission to promote market-driven and profitable agriculture businesses in Southern Maryland. "Farmers in Southern Maryland have already overcome production challenges while transitioning away from tobacco. Our focus now is to help them to enhance, expand and diversify their operations, so that we can promote a thriving regional agricultural economy." said Watson-Hampton.
Applications for the Mini-Grant Program open on July 10, 2017 and must be submitted online on the 'Farm Grants' page under 'Farmer Resources' at www.smadc.com. Mini-grant applications are accepted year round, but only reviewed on a quarterly basis in January, April, July, and October.
To qualify for the Southern Maryland Agricultural Equity Incentive Matching Fund, producers should follow MARBIDCO's regular application process for the program of interest. Matching funds will be considered in the application process and applied to approved loans for farmers residing and doing business in the five-county Southern Maryland Region. Producers interested in the Southern Maryland Revolving Loan Fund should apply directly through MARBIDCO at marbidco.org.