First 31 county micro-agriculture grants awarded by MEO

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February 10, 2023

The first 31 of the third round of Maui County Micro Agriculture Grants – with an average amount of $25,000 – were awarded Monday by Maui Economic Opportunity’s Business Development Center.

More than 110 grants are expected to be awarded with the $3 million from the county. The first 31 grants included 11 for farm/ranching operations on Moloka‘i and three on Lana‘i.

MEO’s Business Development Center, which once again is administering the program, is expected to award another 20 to 25 grants Friday. The goal is to announce all awards by the end of the month.

There were a total of 213 applications for this third round of grants. The biggest obstacle to completion of applications is obtaining required documentation. Applications are not reviewed until the file is complete.

Grantees do not receive the funds directly. MEO gathers quotes from vendors for the farmers’/ranchers’ goods and services and makes the payment.

Grants targeted farms on less than 12 acres and livestock ranches up to 40 acres possessing a county business or state general excise license.

Preference was given to women and Native Hawaiians.

Grants will be used to directly impact the availability of locally-grown produce, livestock and poultry and other related products. Funds could be used for farming equipment and machinery; processing and storage equipment; infrastructure, expansion and upgrades; inventory and supplies; packaging and technology.

The Micro Agriculture Grant program arose during the pandemic in 2019 to support small farmers. The two previous agriculture microgrant programs, funded by Maui County and operated by MEO’s BDC, helped more than 160 small farmers.

Andrew Zehr works on a water tank on his farm, funded through a Maui County Micro Agriculture Grant, administered by MEO Business Development Center last year. The third round of grants for as much as $25,000 are being awarded.

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