June 9, 2017 (Unity, Maine) - The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is poised to help farmers implement special conservation practices on their farms under a three-year, $600,000 Conservation Innovation Grant announced by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on Thursday.
The grant will enable MOFGA to assist farmers in initiating on-farm activities designed to promote environmental protection through specialized loans aimed at stimulating and rewarding conservation practices. The grant also creates incentives for Maine farmers to participate by bundling these activities with financial products to be offered by a specialized credit union being formed by the Maine Harvest Credit Project (MHCP).
"The award is a phenomenal boost to our efforts to encourage innovation in approaches to conservation and environmental protection," said Ted Quaday, MOFGA Executive Director. "We will combine technical conservation assistance to farmers with access to credit to help increase the number of environmentally sensitive farming operations in Maine."
NRCS State Conservationist Juan Hernandez said the grant would help extend and amplify the NRCS mission to address natural resource concerns on private lands.
"This Conservation Innovation Grant is one of 33 similar NRCS grants nationwide designed to ensure future conservation efforts are effective and lasting," said Hernandez. "I see this as a good example of what happens when like-minded organizations partner to make Maine better. And from my perspective it is much more than a $600,000 grant; it is a wise investment in the time, talents, and dedication of our partners at MOFGA."
Sam May, a MOFGA Board Member and Chair of Maine Harvest's Oversight Board, added "The need for a credit union for Maine's small farms and food producers is now more compelling than ever. The sector is growing rapidly and will benefit from the combination of specialized financial and conservation services."
"MOFGA thanks Maine's entire congressional delegation for supporting this work to ensure continued funding to support conservation activities on Maine farms," said Quaday.
MOFGA was the first organization in the country to provide technical assistance specific to organic farming and gardening. MOFGA's agricultural services staff provides farming, gardening and marketing assistance to growers in Maine and beyond. The organization assists seasoned organic growers, helps new organic farmers get started and educates all farmers concerning the benefits of organic methods.