Applications are being accepted for grants to provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
"By creating value-added products, farmers and ranchers can expand economic opportunities, create jobs and keep wealth in rural communities," says USDA Deputy Ag Secrretary Kathleen Merrigan. "These funding opportunities will promote business expansion and entrepreneurship by helping local businesses get access to capital, technical assistance and new markets for their products and services."
For example, Mick and Loretta McDowell, owners of Miletta Vista Winery in St. Paul applied for a Value Added Producer Grant to assist in marketing their locally produced wine. They had been growing grapes since 2003 and used the grant funds to help them market their product in order to open a winery in Central Nebraska. The funds were used to help develop and implement a marketing campaign, purchase the inventory for bottling the wine, and to hire a marketing person. The McDowells provided matching funds for the grant.
Since the opening of the winery, over 4,500 new customers from 26 states and five foreign countries have visited the winery. The grant funds helped them become a well recognized area attraction in the St. Paul area.
The application deadline is Aug. 29, 2011. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the June 28, 2011, Federal Register.
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. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups.