"The Value-Added Producer Grant program helps farmers with the
capital they need to develop their value-added business and
pursue marketing opportunities," said Colleen Callahan, state
director for USDA Rural Development. "These grants can be a
catalyst to expand their product offerings, improve their
revenue streams and create more economic opportunity by bringing
additional value to what they already produce."
Independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives,
majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, and
agricultural producer groups are eligible to apply. Applications
are due Oct. 15.
USDA Rural Development is making up to $14 million in grants
available for projects that help farmers and ranchers produce
bio-based products from agricultural commodities. The grants,
which are competitively awarded, are available for planning
activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both.
The maximum grant amount is $100,000 for planning grants and
$300,000 for working capital grants. Generating new products,
creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing
producer income are the goals of the grant program.
One of last year's Illinois recipients of the Value-Added
Producer Grant was Living
Water Farms, which produces hydroponic greens for specialty
markets in the Midwest. Living Water Farms, located in Strawn,
two hours south of Chicago's Loop, built a hydroponic complex
that allows them to consider year-round sales. They were awarded
a grant last year to expand the market for their greens and now
market them to Illinois supermarkets, high-end restaurants in
Chicago and St. Louis, and a Midwest college food service
program. The grant helped in evaluating their brand and
expanding their distribution to other restaurants, specialty
retail and institutional outlets.
[to top of second column]
One of the other Illinois recipients was the Marcoot family,
who milk Jersey cows in southern Illinois. In 2010, they built a
small creamery on their farmstead, where they process all of
their milk into Jersey-based artisan cheeses. In order to better
meet the demand of their local markets,
Creamery used the grant to diversify products and now
produces 12 cheese varieties exclusively from their milk.
Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to apply for the grants, but
priority will be given to operators of small and medium-sized farms
or ranches that are structured as family farms; beginning farmers or
ranchers; or those owned by socially disadvantaged farmers or
ranchers. Grants are available for projects up to 36 months in
For information on how to apply, see
Page 48951 of the Aug. 15 Federal Register.
For more information on the Value-Added Grant Producer Grant
Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth
and economic stability in rural areas by providing affordable
financing and technical assistance. Support is available for
regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure,
homeownership, business development, and community needs. More
information on USDA Rural Development programs is available on the
[Text from file received from
USDA Rural Development, Illinois]