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USDA Invests Over $3 Million in 29 Montana Agri-Businesses for Value-Added Activities

Sue Kerver
Release Date

BOZEMAN, Mont., Jan. 18, 2022 – During a visit with Crooked Yard Hops, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) Montana State Director Kathleen Williams announced that 29 Montana agricultural producers are receiving grants totaling more than $3 million to help generate new products and market opportunities.

The grants are being made through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“This past year was unprecedented for our VAPG program because this is the most VAPGs we’ve ever awarded in a year in Montana.  In fact, it is six times more than our previous record award amounts!  Our Rural Business and Cooperative Programs team worked hard to ensure Montana’s agri-businesses have what they need to expand capacity and production,” Williams said. “We awarded over $3 million to 29 recipients throughout the state, including several women-owned or -operated businesses.  By supporting local farmers and ranchers through innovative programs like this, Rural Development is contributing to a stronger and more resilient Montana food supply and a rural economy with expanding job opportunities.”


The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income.

USDA RD Montana’s 2021 VAPG awardees include:

  • $230,500 to Farmer Boy Eggs, LLC in Drummond, to pay nine employees, purchase cartons and labels, and cover delivery costs;
  • $49,995 to Awesome Acres, LLC in St. Ignatius, to pay for the costs of processing dried herbal tea and culinary herbs;
  • $39,528 to Crooked Yard Hops, LLP in Bozeman, to assist in processing, packaging, and distributing their products, as well as market their hops;
  • $75,000 to Farmerlicious, Inc. in Big Sandy, to fund the research, product development, test marketing, and distribution of an organic lentil snack mix;
  • $48,057 to Fireroot Distillery, LLC in Florence, to leverage new technologies to compete in the spirits industry, all while protecting the local environment and sustaining energy-efficient practices;
  • $36,209 to Yellowstone Valley Food Hub in Billings, to expand key components of marketing, aggregation, and their distribution system;
  • $250,000 to Farver Farms, LLC in Scobey, to pay for a market expansion for their lentil cruncher snacks;
  • $49,990 to Sporeattic, LLC in Bozeman, to assist with leasing, packaging, and production for this mushroom company;
  • $50,000 to Bozeman Spirits, LLC in Bozeman, to assist with a feasibility study;
  • $249,843 to Prairie Grass Ranch in Havre, to finance the marketing efforts of an organic ancient grain porridge;
  • $243,452 to JWK Enterprises, LLC in Busby, to pay for marketing and value-added product refinement, labeling creation, branding and printing fees, beef product processing and packaging expenses, marketing for packaged beef campaign and to support staff compensation;
  • $31,940 to Western Montana Growers Cooperative, which serves the Flathead, Jocko, Mission and Bitterroot valleys, to fund a feasibility analysis to expand its infrastructure capacity;
  • $30,740 to A Land of Grass Ranch in Conrad, to produce a new stew line for the beef and lamb market;
  • $97,248 to Basin, Inc. in Sweet Grass County, to pay for processing and marketing cattle;
  • $49,999 to Buck 'N Dave's Eggs, LLC in Corvallis, to fund working capital, which will create one new job and increase egg production by 10,000 more eggs per week;
  • $75,000 to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Pablo, to fund a feasibility study and business plan to assess the viability of a mobile meat processing unit and a cut-and-wrap enterprise for their Tribally-produced beef and bison;
  • $44,543 to Farmers on Flynn in Beaverhead County, to complete administrative and marketing tasks;
  • $250,000 to Aaron Toews in Big Horn County, to develop a naturally grown produce operation that will practice sustainable growing practices, utilizing season-extending tools like hoop-houses and greenhouses to extend the short Montana growing season;
  • $49,970 to Moon River Ranch, LLC in Clinton, to fund the outreach and marketing needed to engage the local community as well as introduce other producers of eggs, meat, or other agricultural or food items into its distribution system;
  • $43,200 to Living River Farms, LLC in Stevensville, to fund working capital and expand its business by increasing the quantity of cut-up chicken to its product line;
  • $49,954 to Montana Ranchers Beef Co., LLC in Fergus County, to fund the expenses of processing, packaging, and marketing their cuts of beef;
  • $40,000 to Douglas W. Crabtree in Hill County, to finance working capital for this family-owned, small-sized farm which produces raw organic rye that will be sold to local distillers and millers;
  • $250,000 to Big West Management, LLC in Beaverhead County, to assist with processing, overhead, and administrative costs for this husband-and-wife business that raises cattle and sells quality packaged beef;
  • $49,949 to Retius Sikveland in Circle, to purchase a one-grain mill that can mill chickpeas and make a gluten-free product.  It will also be used for launching an extensive marketing plan;
  • $250,000 to Montana Prime Meats, LLC in Fort Smith, to hire a new marketing manager and expand from a base of 15 head annually to 80 head annually within the three-year grant period;
  • $49,960 to McCafferty Ranch Company, LLC in Belt, to expand sales of all-natural grass-fed beef, including online;
  • $249,900 to Aspen Grove Farm in Corvallis, to increase manufacturing of gourmet jams and syrup products;
  • $48,000 to Thomas Niebur in Malta, to provide working capital funds for this small farm operation that produces alfalfa seed; and
  • $49,900 to Montgomery Farm in Lewistown, to finance cleaning the wheat and rye that will be marketed to local distilleries.  

In an effort to increase competition in agricultural markets and build a more resilient food supply chain, USDA is introducing new programs aimed at building a food system that is fair, competitive, distributed, and resilient.

“We are excited that new programs are being added to our portfolio in an effort to ensure Montana’s agricultural producers receive a fair share of the food dollar while advancing equity in this market,” noted Williams.

More information on new programs, including USDA RD’s Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, may be found at www.usda.gov/meat.

For more information about VAPG, the new food and processing programs, or to apply, please contact Montana's Business and Cooperative Programs Director, Lad Barney, at (406) 309-3350 or lad.barney@usda.gov.

CLICK HERE to access video of today's announcement. 

USDA Rural Development is an investor, ally, and advocate for rural America and provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for Americans living and working 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 http://www.rd.usda.gov/mt


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.