Newer farmers may qualify for grants for poultry disposal freezers

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Sussex County poultry growers who qualify for a grant can get on-farm freezer collection units for free.

More than $1 million in funding assistance and discounts is now available through a special one-time Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant administered by the Sussex Conservation District.

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The first deadline for applications is Friday April 21. There will be subsequent monthly application deadlines set, however, the money will be disbursed on a first-come first-serve basis so those applying early will have a much greater chance of getting their requests approved.

The grant money is limited to individuals or entities who have operated a farm for not more than 10 consecutive years.

Under the current NRCS payment schedule, these “beginning farmers” are eligible for $5,224.45 in grant money for each freezer unit and its concrete pad, and there is no limit on the number of freezer units that can be funded through the program.

Farm Freezers LLC, a local distributor of the on-farm freezer units, is offering a rebate for every unit purchased through the grant program – reducing the cost per freezer unit to less than $5,100. Ultimately, qualified growers will get the equipment for free.

The grant was made possible by a public-private partnership including the Delmarva Poultry Industry, the Conservation District, Greener Solutions LLC, the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the NRCS, the Delaware Department of Agriculture and Farm Freezers LLC. Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP is a partner-driven, locally-led approach to conservation.

For more information on the grant program, visit the Sussex Conservation District at 21315 Berlin Road, Unit 4, Georgetown, DE 19947 – or call (302) 856-3990 Ext. 3.

Chickens that die of routine causes are placed inside a specially designed collection unit and then the lid is closed.

A customized collection vehicle arrives between flocks to empty the units so they are ready for the next flock. Routine maintenance on the unit is provided as part of the collection service offered by Millsboro, DE-based Greener Solutions LLC, which also is offering rebates in connection with the RCPP grant program.

Growers switching to freezer units have been able to greatly reduce the time and money they previously spent on composting, realizing thousands of dollars a year in operational savings, according to a release. Bio-security is also improved byusing sealed containers that lock in pathogens and lock out scavengers and flies, growers can reduce their risk of loss, the release stated.

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