Maine Farms for the Future Program (FFF)

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry


Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Oct 17, 2018 1:00pm PDT

Applicant type: For-Profit Business

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Maine

Location of residency: Maine

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Overview:

Maine Farms for the Future Program

The Maine Farms for the Future Program (FFF) is a competitive grant program that provides selected farms with business planning assistance and investment support.

Farms are selected by an independent Review Panel, appointed by the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and comprised of professionals from the agricultural sector, including bankers, farmers, policymakers, and a former Commissioner of Agriculture.

The Phase 1 grant allows selected farmers to research ideas for change on their farm and work with a certified business counselor to write an investment-grade business plan.

Grant funds are also used to hire private consultants, attend industry and trade conferences, conduct market research, obtain special skills or training, and travel to other farms to analyze the feasibility of their ideas. Only those farms that complete their business plan in Phase 1 are eligible to apply for Phase 2 in the fall one or two years after receiving their Phase 1 grant and developing their business plan.

The Phase 2 cash grant and/or low-interest rate through the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund, assists farmers with implementing the project(s) described in their Phase 1 Business Plan. In exchange, farmers sign an agreement to protect their farmland for 7 years.

Maine Farms for the Future Program, Round 17: Phase 1 - Business Plan Development (2017-2019) with potential Phase 2 - Investment Support in 2019

Purpose and Background

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (“Department”) is seeking proposals from eligible applicants (“Bidders”) as defined in this Request for Proposals (RFP) document. This document provides instructions for submitting proposals, the procedure and criteria by which the Provider(s) will be selected and the contractual terms which will govern the relationship between the State of Maine (“State”) and the awarded Bidder(s).

Eligible Bidders apply to compete for a Round 17 - Phase 1 business planning grant to research and write a business plan based on their Ideas for Change to increase the farm’s long-term profitability and net worth. 

Once the business plan is completed, each Round 17 - Phase 1 grant recipient may compete for a Round 17 - Phase 2 implementation grant. The Phase 2 grant requires the applicant to provide 75% match (comprised of cash, loans, other grants, in-kind materials and labor) for a 25% cash grant for no more than $25,000. Phase 2 also offers the opportunity to be recommended for a low-interest rate (2%) on an approved loan through the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund

Scope of Services to be Provided

Farm business owners awarded a Round 17 - Phase 1 grant will work with the Department’s Program Administrator to:

  • Assess information and research needs to test the feasibility of the Idea(s) for Change.
  • Assemble a list of appropriate service providers and training opportunities to address the identified information and research needs.
  • Develop a work plan and budget for the use of the Phase 1 grant funds.
    • The general work plan will be described in the Scope of Work of the BP54 Contract.
    • The farm business owner and Program Administrator will periodically consult to update details of the work plan and the budget.

Farm business owners will work independently and utilize Phase 1 grant funds to:

  • Contract or work with agricultural service providers to obtain expert advice, estimates, drawings, draft plans and research, technical and professional assistance with bookkeeping, recordkeeping, market assessment, marketing, new product development, and any other such services that may be related to the farm’s Idea(s) for Change to increase farm vitality.
  • Attend NxLevel Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, a 6-session business planning course, that will be taught at KVCC/ Farm Center at Goodwill Hinckley in Fairfield on 11/29/17; 12/13/17; 
  •  1/24/18; 2/7/18; 2/21/18 and 1/8/18 at the Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center.
  • Consult with certified business advisor(s) and/or consultant(s) and the Department to improve the financial recordkeeping, production and marketing functions of the farm business; and to conduct research on the proposed Ideas for Change. 
  • Obtain training to improve financial recordkeeping, production methods and marketing functions of the farm business.
  • Purchase financial and/or recordkeeping software and point-of-service technology for the farm business and obtain training on the use of any such recordkeeping and financial management software to improve overall recordkeeping.
  • Regularly submit accounting and progress reports to the Program Administrator to access grant funds.

NOTE: Only those Round 17 – Phase 1 farm businesses that submit a completed written business plan to the Department in October 2018 or 2019 will be eligible to apply for Round 17 - Phase 2 Investment Support as stated in this RFP.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • All interested parties who meet the following criteria are invited to submit bids in response to this Request for Proposals. An Eligible Bidder must
    • Represent a private, for-profit company that is owned by individuals, partners or corporations, that grows or produces agricultural products for commercial sale.
    • Have State of Maine certification or licensure as required for their type of agricultural operation, i.e. Nutrient Management Plan, Commercial Kitchen License, Milk License, etc.
    • Have been commercially producing agricultural products in the State of Maine for at least two (2) years (24 months) at the time of application. 
    • Have ownership of the land that is being farmed, or be a partner or shareholder in a legal entity that owns the farmland, or have a 10+-year written lease for the land that is being farmed and have the farmland owner sign a separate copy of Appendix B to this RFP. 
    • Have been in commercial operation in Maine for 2 full years (24 months).
      • If the Bidder has recently purchased farmland, they must provide written evidence that they have had at least two years of experience operating a commercial farm operation elsewhere in Maine.
    • Submit copies of the commercial farm operation’s 2015 and 2016 Balance Sheets, as well the 2015 and 2016 IRS - Schedule F tax forms.