FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Frederick County announced two grant initiatives for farmers and historic property owners.
“Farmers in Frederick County and across our county have experienced low commodity prices over the last few years and increasing farm debt,” said County Executive Jan Gardner during a public briefing.
County officials say the coronavirus pandemic has also impacted a large percentage of farmers.
“They’ve been affected because a lot of the farmers sell their products into the market. Market prices have been very low,” explained associate director of agriculture business development in the Frederick County Office of Economic Development, Katie Albaugh Stevens. “We’ve seen a drop in a lot of the commodity crop prices, we’ve seen a drop in milk price. And so, people are having to get creative.”
Many are now turning to diversification, the strategy of finding additional sources of income.
“It might be a farmer who is milking cows and they want to add a creamery…or just do something different to increase profitability and bring the next generation back to the farm,” Stevens said.
But one of the biggest hurdles: the money to start a new operation.
Gardner announced the Agricultural Innovation Grant Program with awards starting at $5,000 dollars for research, production buildings, processing facilities, and more.
“We hear a lot from people who want to do value-added agriculture, but it takes a lot of upfront capital so this grant will really assist farms to do this,” said Stevens.
The program will accept applications twice a year, in January and July.
Applicants must be a crop or livestock producer, a value-added producer, an agricultural cooperative, a seafood processor, or a primary or secondary timber products processor, according to a press release.
The county has also launched the Rural Historic Preservation Grant Program.
Funding of up to $50,000 will be awarded to property owners or non-profits to stabilize or rehabilitate historic structures, like a barn, home or stone walls.
Properties must be listed on the Frederick County Register of Historic Places or on the National Register of Historic Places, or be designated as a contributing resource in a historic district, the press release stated.
For more information on the programs click here.