Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted the importance of rural entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy and announced investments to help rural businesses grow, diversify, and create jobs. USDA is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and create new products to market.
Cornaby’s Farm in Salem, Utah, has been selected for a $75,000 Value-Added Producer Grant to determine the feasibility of producing and marketing dried raspberries and a specialty chocolate raspberry product for a niche market.
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Value-Added Producer Grant program. The program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.
"The funding we are announcing today will have far-reaching, positive impacts in rural communities across the country," Vilsack said. "The investments will help businesses create new products, expand their operations, and support local and regional food systems. The new Farm Bill expands this program to provide even more of these opportunities."
Since 2009, USDA has awarded 863 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $108 million. Twenty percent of the grants and 16 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for the program from $15 million to $63 million over five years (while also reauthorizing an additional $40 million in discretionary funding).
The grants can be used for a wide range of purposes. They can support local and regional food systems, further the development of the growing bioeconomy, and finance the distribution of local and regional products.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an element of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA's work to support local and regional food systems. Previous Value-Added Producer Grants supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass.
USDA is awarding Value-Added Producer Grants in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia. A full list of recipients is available here. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
The announcement of today's funding was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.