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USDA Announces $29 Million to Increase American-Made Fertilizer Production Gloucester, MA Company Will Give Southern New England Farmers More Choices For Nutrient Rich Compost

Brent Wucher
Amherst, MA
Release Date

AMHERST, MA, March 10, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department received $3 billion in applications from more than 350 independent businesses from 47 states and 2 territories for the first two rounds of a new grant program to add innovative domestic fertilizer production capacity.

USDA also announced the first $29 million in grant offers under the first round that focused on projects that can come online in the near term. The grants will help independent businesses increase production of American-made fertilizer, which will spur competition, give U.S. farmers more choices and fairer prices and reduce dependence on unreliable foreign sources like Russia and Belarus. Vilsack made the announcement at the 2023 Commodity Classic, the same event where he first unveiled the program a year earlier.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA understand the importance of taking on the root causes and need to invest in the agricultural supply chain here at home to create a resilient, secure and sustainable economy for the long haul,” Vilsack said. “By expanding the production of domestic fertilizer supplies, we can grow independent local businesses, bring production and jobs to rural communities and support fair prices for our farmers.”

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Fertilizer Production Expansion Program is part of a government-wide effort to promote competition in agricultural markets. The program supports fertilizer production that is independent, made-in-America, innovative, sustainable and farmer-focused.

In Massachusetts, $1,893,694 of the 29 million announced by Secretary Vilsack has been offered to Black Earth Compost, LLC in Gloucester, MA. The company collects organic waste, primarily food scraps, and turns it into nutrient rich compost that is used as a soil amendment that enhances soil health, water retention and productivity.

“The FPEP represents an important opportunity to not only strengthen our capacity for domestic fertilizer manufacturers but also to provide greater access by producers and resiliency of our local food systems,” said Scott J. Soares, State Director USDA Rural Development Southern New England (serving CT, MA & RI). “I’m thrilled to offer my congratulations to Black Earth Compost for their pursuit of the FPEP grant and to extend my gratitude for the benefits that I expect they’ll bring to our producers and consumers alike!”

The project involves the construction of a new composting facility on a four-acre portion of a large parcel formerly used as a town landfill. The nutrient dense product will be produced through compost drying and screening equipment to get large amounts of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliant nutrient rich compost.

Black Earth Compost’s target market is to farmers in areas that typically do not have access to nutrient rich food scrap compost. The facility will utilize food scraps from local areas which will be a reliable base for this facility partnering with local municipalities and business.


USDA began accepting applications for FPEP in September 2022. The Department initially announced plans to make $250 million in grants available but quickly doubled the available funding to $500 million to address rising costs and spur competition.

Fertilizer prices more than doubled between 2021 and 2022 due to many factors, including price hikes caused by the war in Ukraine, a limited supply of the relevant minerals, high energy costs, high global demand and agricultural commodity prices, reliance on imports, and a lack of competition in the fertilizer industry.

FPEP is part of a broader effort to help producers boost production and address global food insecurity. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/fpep or https://www.farmers.gov/global-food-insecurity. It is one of many ways the Biden-Harris Administration’s is promoting fair competition, innovation and resiliency across food and agriculture and combating the climate crisis by conserving and protecting our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources, including our soil, air and water.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ct-ma-ri. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov/ct-ma-ri.


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