The IRSSC has been providing technical assistance to a group of Farmers in Maine for over 18 months at no charge and the IRSSC recently was able to secure a large grant from a private donor in Maine; the entire grant will be used to support the Perseco project (this grant will not be used to compensate the IRSSC for past work).

Perseco is looking to develop “Local Micro Protein Processing”. The farmers have purchased a 22 acre land parcel in LaGrange Maine to build stage one processing.

Perseco is a producer-controlled ag business venture led by socially disadvantaged farmers that are comprised of retired War Veterans and African Americans.

They have an opportunity to also purchase a well-established, underutilized, second stage USDA licensed processing and distribution company in New England.

Additionally, we had an amazing collaborative process that supported the writing of a USDA Regional Food System Partnership Grant titled: Maine Meat System Alliance.

We are working with the Cumberland County Food Security Council. Core partners are Perseco, Ummah Farm, Provider Farms, Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society, University of Southern Maine Food Studies, SmallFish consulting, and University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The project leverages the involvement and expertise of many additional stakeholders. Whether or not this grant is awarded, we have laid the foundation for a strong and unprecedented partnership to strengthen Maine’s local meat supply chain. The partnership consists of individuals from organizations and businesses with diverse missions ranging from food production to education to farmer advocacy to industry support. They represent networks that encompass key stakeholders working across the industry and impacted by it. The partnership serves as a liaison to all these constituents.

The primary goal of the Maine Meat System Alliance is to develop a more local and resilient meat supply. This will include enterprise investments and market developments that capture the value associated with local food for the farmers producing it, while keeping resources in the local economy.

The Maine Meat System Alliance strives to achieve the following goals:

· Build a public-private network to grow a meat system economy serving Maine and New England.

· Support the development of business plans, pilot projects, and implementation strategies for value-added meat production and local and regional food system infrastructure.

· Strengthen capacity and regional food system development through community collaboration and expansion of small-scale and mid-tier value chains.

· Improve income and economic opportunities for producers, workers, and food businesses through enterprise development, skills training, and job creation.

Additionally, Perseco was selected to the HFFI Targeted Small Grants Program.  The HFFI program received 446 LOIs requesting approximately $69 million — more than 20 times the $3 million available for grant awards. Over the past few weeks, program staff have reviewed LOI submissions for eligibility based on the submission requirements, project location, and eligible project types described in the Request for Applications (RFA).

We are pleased to inform you that Perseco’s Fresh Local Protein for the masses is eligible to submit a full application to the HFFI Targeted Small Grants Program…

Congratulations to the Perseco business owners for your tireless work efforts!

Mark A. Sprackland

Executive Director

Independent Retailers

Shared Services Cooperative