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Value-added ag grants available

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

DES MOINES – Bill Menner, state director for USDA Rural Development in Iowa, announced last week that government grants will again be available to assist independent agricultural producers with value-added activities.

Applications for the Value Added Producer Grant program from USDA Rural Development must be postmarked no later than Nov. 30.

The agency is encouraging applicants to submit materials by an Oct. 1 preliminary deadline. Applications submitted by this date will be reviewed and edited for completeness and eligibility.

“Since 2001, 120 producers and businesses in Iowa have been awarded more than $20 million through this program to help them add value to the commodities they produce on their farm,” Menner said.

A total of approximately $18 million will be available through this nationally competitive program in 2009.

The 2008 Farm Bill expanded the Value Added Producer Grant program and makes 10 percent of available funds available to local and regional supply networks linking producers with businesses and cooperatives that market value-added agriculture products.

In addition, 10 percent of available funds will also be reserved for beginning farmers or ranchers or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.

Value Added Producer Grants are available to independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Grants are available for planning or working capital purposes.

Planning grants can be used for feasibility studies, marketing and/or business plans. Grant funds can be used to pay consultants who guide producers through the development processes.

The planning activities must be related to the marketing of a value-added product.

Working capital grants can be used by new or existing businesses to pay the operating expenses of new ventures just starting out.

Examples of previous grant recipients in Iowa include large wind farms, wineries, branded meat marketers, as well as pork, specialty soy oil and cheese and milk processors.

“The Value Added Producer Grant program creates jobs and improves the financial returns for producers and farm families across rural Iowa, and rural America,” Menner said. “I hope producers with interest in starting our expanding their value-added business will give us a call.”

Additional information about this and other Rural Development programs is available at a local Rural Development office or can be found online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.

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