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Workshop set on USDA value-added ag grants

By Staff | Jul 15, 2011

The Drake Agricultural Law Center is hostinga workshop on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grant program for farmers, businesses owners, accountants, lawyers and consultants.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to noon in the Drake Legal Clinic, at the intersection of 24th Street and University Avenue, in Des Moines.

The workshop will focus on the USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant program. USDA-Rural Development staff will be on hand to present this new round of funding and to answer questions.

Staff from Iowa Microloan will also be presenting information about a loan program that can help applicants fill in some of the gaps not covered by the VAPG program.There is no charge for the workshop and participants do not need to register in advance.

USDA recently announced the availability of $37 million for planning grants and working capital grants. Applications are due into USDA by Aug. 29 and it’s estimated about 250 projects will be funded.

“Iowans have always been very competitive in this grant program,” said Neil Hamilton, professor of law and director at the ALC. “The Center’s hosting this workshop to encourage Iowans to prepare and submit grant applications to compete for these resources.”

“In the last round of funding, 13 Iowa farms were awarded grants including Juan O’Sullivan’s Salsa Co. and Frisian Farms, artisanal cheese makers, both members of the Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign,” said Matt Russell, state food policy project coordinator at the ALC.

“This grant program can help with the development of local foods systems and can spur the economy by supporting local producers,” said Bill Menner, USDA-RD state director.

Grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy.

Applicants eligible to apply include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.

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