Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development state director, announced today that Morning Joy Farm in Mercer, North Dakota received a grant to organize a producer cooperative and launch the first food hub to market local grower products in North Dakota. The funding is provided through USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant program, which aims to help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding market opportunities and developing new products.
“By forming a cooperative, growers can reach new markets and sell to more than just the individual consumer,” said Schneider. “The establishment of a cooperative food hub will provide small to mid-size growers the opportunity to bring their products to grocers, schools and restaurants.”
Morning Joy Farm, along with other local food producers, will use the $62,325 grant to organize a grower’s cooperative. The cooperative members will then create a food hub to facilitate multi-channel marketing of their specialty crops, proteins, and value-added food products.
Along with the USDA funding, the North Dakota Rural Rehab Company will provide a matching grant. Common Enterprise Development Corporation will also offer technical assistance to complete the grant’s objectives within a two-year timeframe.
Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/nd.