Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development state director, announced that applications are being accepted for grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities intended to give them a competitive business edge.
“The grant program creates new income opportunities for farmers, generates wealth that will stay in rural communities and increases access to local foods in underserved communities,” said Schneider. “Supporting farmers and related businesses helps boost product development and strengthen rural economies.”
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. The grants help create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. Funding may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000 and the maximum planning grant is $75,000. Eligible applicants include: independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups.
In fiscal year 2012, for example, Dakota Pride Cooperative in Jamestown received a $49,000 grant to expand their reach into South Korea by marketing identity-preserved, non-genetically modified soybeans.
Grant applications are due by February 24, 2014. More information about how to apply is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html or by calling the USDA Rural Development office at 701-530-2037.