USDA Offers Grants to Assist Value-Added Ag Projects

Application deadline for value-added producer grants is March 31.

Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa, says grants are available to assist producers and rural small businesses who are wanting to add value to the commodities they produce on their farm. Deadline for applying for the 2008 Value Added Producer Grant Program is March 31.

"The grants can be used for planning that establishes a viable value-added marketing opportunity, or for working capital to operate a value-added business," Reisinger says. "These grants provide America's farmers with the investment funds needed to expand their role in developing and marketing value-added products in domestic and international markets."

Since 2001, a total of 111 businesses in Iowa have been awarded more than $19 million in grant funds through this program. Iowa businesses have received close to 15% of the national funding available in Value Added Producer Grants over the seven years of the program. This year $18 million is available through this nationally competitive program.

Funds for planning or working capital

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. If a business venture has been operating for more than a year, it doesn't qualify for a working capital grant.

Examples of previous grant recipients in Iowa include ethanol plants, biodiesel facilities, large wind farms, wineries, branded meat marketers, as well as pork, specialty soy oil, as well as 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," Reisinger said. "I hope producers with interest in starting our expanding their value-added business will give us a call."

Contact USDA Rural Development

Further information about Value Added Producer Grants and other Rural Development programs is available by calling the agency at 515-284-4663, going to your nearest local Rural Development office or at  

A copy of the 2008 Value Added Producer Grant Notice of Solicitation of Application is available at

Eleven USDA Rural Development offices in Iowa serve the 1.9 million Iowans living in rural areas. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly. USDA Rural Development is an equal opportunity lender with a variety of direct and guaranteed rural credit programs involving single and multi-family housing, community facilities, water and sewer development and business and industry programs. The agency's mission is to deliver quality programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents.

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