WASHINGTON — USDA is accepting applications for grants to provide economic assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects.
Expanding business. For example, in Caroline County, Md., Richard and Wenfei Uva, owners of Seaberry Farm, received a Value-Added Producer Grant to expand their processing capacity to produce beach plum jams and jellies, juice, and puree for retail and wholesale markets.
The Beach plum, Prunus maritime, is a native fruiting shrub that grows in coastal sand dunes from southern Maine to Maryland. Seaberry Farm planted three acres of Beach plum in 2006 and will double the acreage in 2011.
Cooking greens. Located in Oxnard, Calif., San Miguel Produce is owned by Roy Nishimori and Jan Berk, independent producers of organic and conventional cooking greens.
In 2009, they received a Value-Added Producer Grant for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. With this grant, San Miguel Produce has been able to expand markets for their “Cut ‘n Clean Green” products and increase revenues.
Eligibility. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.
The application deadline is Aug. 29.
Visit www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency’s programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.