The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications from independent producers, cooperatives, producer-handlers and other business ventures to promote new value-added agricultural products and local and regional supply networks. With a total budget of $18 million to use for the grants, USDA expects the average grant awarded will be $140,000.
The program is designed to encourage producers to plan for and invest in new market opportunities, such as on-farm renewable energy, functional foods and value-added dairy and other agricultural products that are processed and marketed within the same State or no more than 400 miles from where the commodity was sourced. All businesses are eligible, but priority will be given to small and medium-sized farms.
The maximum planning grant will be $100,000, and the maximum working capital grant will be $300,000. All grants awarded must be matched by the grant receiver with in-kind or capital contributions, and the projects must be completed within three years.
The application deadline is July 6, 2009. For details about eligibility requirements and the application process, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm.
Members with questions may contact Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs, at email@example.com or 202-220-3553.