Local businesses to partner with UMES, USDA

PRINCESS ANNE A partnership between the UMES School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, the USDA Rural Development office, and local businesses will bring major benefits to several counties, initially, on the lower Eastern Shore.

 

The UMES project, funded by the USDA Rural Development office in the amount of $172,270, has been designed to provide awareness and stir interest among socially disadvantaged groups (SDGs) in developing cooperatives and markets for the sale of various consumer products, including sheep, goats, yellow perch whole fish, tilapia fingerlings, fruits and vegetables. Titled “Awareness and Best Marketing Practice Training for Socially Disadvantaged Groups on the Lower Eastern Shore of Delmarva,” it targets Somerset, Wicomico, Accomack, and Dorchester counties, where a significantly higher percentage of persons live below the poverty line when compared to any other county in each of the states on average.

Pictured left to right are Letitia Nichols, director, USDA Rural Development Business and Cooperative Program; Dr. Juliette B. Bell, UMES President; Dr. Athur Allen, Project Director for the Awareness and Best Marketing Training for Socially Disadvantaged Groups on the Lower Eastern Shore of Delmarva.

Pictured left to right are Letitia Nichols, director, USDA Rural Development Business and Cooperative Program; Dr. Juliette B. Bell, UMES President; Dr. Athur Allen, Project Director for the Awareness and Best Marketing Training for Socially Disadvantaged Groups on the Lower Eastern Shore of Delmarva.

Currently, feasibility studies are being conducted to determine the marketability of each commodity. In the near future, listening sessions will be held to help facilitate the successful completion of the goals and objectives of the study.

 

On Feb. 4, UMES President Juliette Bell led a number of presentations while describing the initiative as a component of UMES’ commitment to fulfill its land-grant mission to support agricultural and community development, thus maximizing on the university’s unique capabilities in extension and research. Letitia Nichols, director of the USDA Rural Development’s Business and Cooperative Program addressed how the project fits into the USDA’s local and regional mission and added that the grant was the first one of its kind funded to benefit socially disadvantaged groups.

 

Following several other presentations, Bill Reddish, community liaison for Congressman Andy Harris, presented a certificate of special congressional recognition while highlighting the university’s commitment to the community. The team projects that they will be able to reach and provide technical assistance to over 100 socially disadvantaged individuals over the course of the study.

 

For more information about the SDG grant, contact Dr. Arthur Allen at 410-651-1879 or Mr. Berran Rogers at 410-651-6070.

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