"Illinois is a leading,
worldwide producer of food and fiber because of our agriculture
industry's ability to react to marketplace changes and quickly
adopt new technologies," Blagojevich said. "These grants will
help fund the development of new agricultural products and
innovative production practices that will keep the industry
competitive, growing and creating better jobs for more people."
AgriFIRST provides incentives to promote "value-added"
agricultural ventures, or projects that turn raw commodities
into marketable products and enable farmers to earn a larger
share of the consumer dollar. Since its inception in 2001, the
program has awarded grants totaling nearly $4 million to more
than 100 projects throughout the state.
"This investment demonstrates Governor Blagojevich's
commitment to growing the renewable fuels industry," Agriculture
Director Chuck Hartke said. "In addition to the biodiesel
project, funds have been awarded to help establish two
facilities that will improve our ability to transport distillers
dried grains, a byproduct of the ethanol manufacturing process
that can be sold and used as an animal feed."
The AgriFIRST grants follow the governor's announcement of
his energy independence plan to replace 50 percent of the
state's current supply of imported oil with renewable, homegrown
biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The governor proposes
investing $100 million over the next five years to build up to
20 new ethanol plants across Illinois. The additional ethanol
production would generate an estimated $1.7 billion in business
investment. The governor also proposes investing an additional
$100 million over the next 10 years to build four plants in
downstate Illinois using new technology to create ethanol made
from plant waste materials like corn husks and wood pulp -- or "cellulosic
ethanol." This means boosting the state's annual ethanol
production by more than 200 percent and meeting 50 percent of
gasoline needs by 2017. And, the governor's plan would invest
$25 million to help build five new biodiesel plants, boosting
the state's production by 200 percent to 400 million gallons per
year, or the equivalent of 25 percent of the state's annual
diesel fuel needs by 2017. This additional biodiesel production
will generate another $225 million in business investment in
Illinois. This plan would create almost 20,000 construction jobs
and 10,000 permanent jobs.
Three types of assistance are available:
assistance grants cover up to 75 percent of the cost of
developing a "value-added" project. The maximum award is
assessment grants pay up to 50 percent of the cost of
feasibility studies, business and marketing plans and
consulting services, with a cap of $300,000 per project.
cover up to 10 percent of a qualified project's construction
cost, including the purchase of land, buildings and
equipment. The amount received cannot exceed $5 million.
[to top of second column]
Nine projects were funded this year. The grant recipients are
listed below by region.
Hunter Haven Farms, Pearl City, $32,625, to install an additional
gen-set to an existing manure digester at the company's dairy. The
equipment converts methane gas into electricity and will enable the
farm to increase its generating capacity.
Silver Moon Winery, Schaumburg, $19,612, to acquire technical
assistance to develop brand identity tools.
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, $16,850, to conduct a
feasibility study to identify and evaluate new uses for glycerin, a
co-product of biodiesel. The funds will enable the university to
contract the AgTech New Uses Entrepreneur Development Center to
explore new uses of unrefined glycerin as an energy feedstock.
Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Bloomington, $40,000, to implement
a grant program to help qualified organizations establish two
distillers dried grain container loader facilities.
Lowell & Jacob Ioerger, Minonk, $24,897, to develop a greenhouse
that will be used to start an organic, hydroponic tomato operation.
Prairie Gold, Bloomington, $75,500, to advance the company's zein
project. Zein is a corn-based plant protein that has a variety of
industrial and food uses. Among other things, the grant will be used
to negotiate supply contracts with end users and design displays and
Stewards of the Land, Fairbury, $13,000, to hire a marketing
professional to help develop branding materials to increase the
marketing potential of the produce produced by the farmers involved
in the group.
QCity Meats, Quincy, $14,630, to expand an existing livestock
processing and wholesale-retail meat facility.
Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative, Newton, $2,640, to obtain
assistance with the distribution of produce and to develop marketing
materials to help cooperative members access the Chicago fresh
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]