Champaign, IL, Jul 01, 2011 -- Contact: Joan Messina (217) 403-6248
USDA Invites Applications for Value Added Producer Grant to Assist Farmers
Champaign, Ill., July 1, 2011 – Illinois USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan announced that applications are being accepted for grants to provide financial assistance to independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, and agricultural producer groups through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
“This funding helps farmers with the capital they need to develop their value-added business and pursue marketing opportunities,” Callahan said. “These grants can be a catalyst to pursue or expand value-added ventures and improve financial return.”
Last year Kilgus Farmstead and Willow Bend Alpaca Farms were two of the six Illinois Value-Added Producer Grant recipients. Located near Fairbury, Ill., Kilgus Farmstead, Inc. received a grant for working capital to produce and expand their market for on-farm bottled milk from their all-Jersey cattle herd. Besides working capital, they are using the grant funds to expand marketing of their products by developing their website, holding on-farm events, staging product demos, creating marketing materials and attending market events off-site.
Willow Bend Alpaca Farms, LLC near Forreston, Ill., is using its grant for working capital to create and market a clothing line made from alpaca fiber. The business currently raises, breeds and sells alpaca. The grant has helped them to create a winter line of quality clothing made primarily from Alpaca fiber produced on the farm and to distribute it through retail outlets in Northern Illinois.
Application deadline is August 29, 2011. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, see the June 28, 2011, and February 23, 2011 Federal Registers. More information is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html or by calling Matt Harris at 217-403-6211.
Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. Rural Development provides value-added planning grants of up to $100,000 for activities such as creating business plans, feasibility studies, and marketing plans. Working capital grants up to $300,000 are available for expenses such as labor, inventory, office equipment, and fees for marketing and consulting. Recipients must match the grants dollar for dollar.
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 web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.