BANGOR, Maine – Coastal Enterprises Inc. has been awarded an $8 million grant that will help leverage capital for historically underserved meat and poultry processors across New England.
The grant was part of $88.6 million the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded to nine nonprofits across the country to finance startup and expansion of independent meat processors through the Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program (MPILP).
The grant to CEI, located in Brunswick, Maine, will bolster the Northeast region’s network of meat and poultry processors through equitable lending opportunities and accessible technical assistance, as well as supporting state-led efforts currently underway, a news release from the USDA’s Maine Rural Development office said.
The grants provide loans and other financial resources to meat and poultry processes in Maine and New Hampshire, as well as the other four New England states and New York, particularly small livestock farms.
CEI “will work intentionally” with meat and poultry processors who have been historically marginalized and under-resourced by traditional lending systems, providing both access to affordable capital and industry-specific technical expertise to support regional processing facilities in start-up or expansion, the release said.
Livestock and poultry production accounts for 31.1% of the state’s farm production sales, with another 22.7% coming from dairy products, according to the most recent USDA agriculture census. Total farm receipts from 4,950 New Hampshire farm operations were $1.9 million in 2019, the most recent census year. (Census results are released every five years, with the next one due out next year.)
USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson said, “As a farmer myself, I deeply understand the need for additional processing infrastructure here in Maine, and greater New England. That’s why I am so happy to celebrate this award to CEI; as a long-time partner of farmers across the region, they have the expertise to uplift many small businesses with this investment.”
The grant was the only one to a Northeast state. Nonprofits in Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota also received grants.
For more information, visit www.usda.gov/meat.