Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA, Rural Development State Director John Walsh today April 8th that USDA is making up to $44 million available to farmers, ranchers and businesses to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
“Agriculture is Montana’s largest industry and adding value to this industry’s products will only help Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners increase economic opportunities for their families and communities” said Walsh. “The Value-Added Producer Grant program is an under-utilized program in Montana. This program can help expand agriculture markets and deliver a higher dollar return to producers.”
Value-Added Producer Grants help eligible applicants enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. These grants support planning activities, such as developing a business plan, as well as provide working capital to implement viable value-added business plans. Grants are awarded through a national competition. The maximum grant amount for planning grants is $75,000 and $250,000 for working capital grants. Matching resources are required.
More information on how to apply is on page 20607 of the April 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due June 24, 2016. Additional information and assistance is available through the USDA Rural Development Office serving your county.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded 1,126 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $144.7 million. USDA awarded 205 grants to beginning farmers and ranchers.
In Montana, Poor Orphan Creamery, located in the Laurin community, received a $15,750 grant in 2014. The working capital grant helped the sheep dairy to produce value-added hand-crafted farmstead cheeses from milk harvested from their flock of Icelandic dairy sheep. The cheese is now sold throughout the United States and Internationally.
Congress increased funding for the Value-Added program in the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses.