The IRSSC has been providing technical assistance to a group of farmers in Maine for over 32 months at no charge; the IRSSC has invested well over 475 hours into researching and mentoring our clients. Additionally we were successful in securing a large grant from a private donor to support the project.
Our clients are looking to develop “Local Micro Protein Processing”. They are 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 Grant titled entitled “Eastern Maine Meat Processing Facility Planning”.
Core partners are Eastern Maine Development Corporation, SmallFish Consulting, The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and a group of locally-owned grocery stores.
The project leverages the involvement and expertise of many additional stakeholders. 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 Eastern Maine Meat Processing Facility Planning 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 Eastern Maine Meat Processing Facility Planning Project 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.
Mark A. Sprackland
Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative