Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Value-Added Grants for Producers

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Thomas C. Dorr announced that the agency is accepting applications for grants to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities.

“These Rural Development funds support small businesses and help producers find new markets and expanded uses for agricultural products,” Dorr said. “USDA is committed to working with rural farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs to increase their economic opportunities and create jobs that boost the local economy.”

The primary objective of this grant program is to help producers of agricultural commodities develop and market value-added products. The grants may be used for planning activities, such as feasibility studies, marketing and business plans needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product. They also may be used to provide working capital for operating a value-added business venture, marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Applicants must be an independent producer, agriculture producer group, farmer or rancher cooperative, or majority-controlled producer-based business.

Awards will be made on a competitive basis. Applications must be received no later than March 31, 2008. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the January 29, 2008, Federal Register. An application guide and other materials may be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm or by contacting Nathan Chitwood with the Missouri USDA Rural Development State Office at 573-876-9320.

An informational meeting and training on completion of the application packet will be provide in the Missouri USDA Rural Development State Office, 601 Business Loop 70 West, Suite 232 Parkade Center, Columbia, Missouri 65203 on February 21, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. Those interested in obtaining additional information are encouraged to contact Mr. Chitwood. There will also be an informational meeting on the renewable energy and energy efficiency grant program at 1:00 p.m. on the same day and same location.

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested nearly $91 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 1.7 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov .

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