The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted nearly $1.6 million to eight agricultural producers in Puerto Rico to help them enter into value added activities related to the processing and/or marketing, generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities and increasing producer income.
The funding is part of a $45 million in the agency is granting across the U.S. and Puerto Rico for new product development, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently
The local producers getting funding are: De Hoyos Farm LLC, Empacadora y Procesadora del Sur Inc., Setas de Puerto Rico, Ganaderos Borges Inc., Hacienda San Diego LLC, Puerto Rico Coffee Company Inc., Rico Banana Inc., and Kefruits LLC, said José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development state director for Puerto Rico.
USDA is investing in a total of 326 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
“Value-Added Producer Grants are one of USDA’s most sought-after funding sources for veteran and beginning farmers, and rural businesses,” Vilsack said. “These grants provide a much needed source of financing to help producers develop new product lines and increase their income, and keep that income in their community.”
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantages groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small and medium sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given priority.
USDA has awarded 1,442 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183.2 million. Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as a key component of rural economic development.