Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday the availability of nearly $10.5 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to help agriculture producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.
“U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth,” Vilsack said.
The funding is being made available through the “Value-Added Producer Grant program” to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of exiting products or good, or to develop specially and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $100,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.
“Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, help fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers especially at the local and regional level,” he said.
José Otero-García, Rural Development state director for Puerto Rico, said eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producers groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small – to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.
Grant applications are due by Feb. 24, 2014.