Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA will soon be accepting applications for grants to assist agricultural producers seeking to add value to the commodities they produce. The Secretary says these grants will help farmers and ranchers add value by using them for planning activities such as feasibility studies, marketing and business plans, or for working capital. Approximately $18 million will be awarded nationwide.
USDA plans to award planning grants of up to $100,000 and working capital grants of up to $300,000 to successful applicants. Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that use existing agricultural products in non-traditional ways or merge agricultural products with technology in creative ways. Priority will be given to operators of small and medium-sized family farms with average annual gross sales of less than $700,000.
Of the funding being made available, 10% is reserved for beginning farmers or ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. An additional 10% is reserved for projects involving local and regional supply networks that link independent producers with businesses and cooperatives that market value-added products. Applicants must provide matching funds equal to the amount of the grant requested.