News Release
Release No.STELPRD4014546
ContactDawn Knepp717-237-2286
National Contact202-720-4623
(2/3/12) AGRICULTURE DEPUTY SECRETARY MERRIGAN ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO CREATE JOBS AND STRENGTHEN THE ECONOMIC FOUNDATION OF RURAL AMERICA
Ten Projects Funded In Pennsylvania
Chicago, IL, Feb 03, 2012 --

@@Local Contact: Dawn Knepp

(717) 237-2286

National Contact:

Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Funding To Create Jobs and Strengthen the Economic Foundation of Rural America

Projects to Assist Agricultural Producers, Farmers, Ranchers, Small Business and Cooperatives

CHICAGO, February 3, 2012 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that USDA has selected 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico to receive business development assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Merrigan made the announcement in Chicago after keynoting the “Local/Regional Food System Conference” hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

“In his State of the Union address last week President Obama was clear that we need to do more to create jobs and promote economic growth. These projects will provide financial returns and help create jobs for agricultural producers, businesses and families across the country,” Merrigan said.  “This funding will promote small business expansion and entrepreneurship opportunities by providing local businesses with access capital, technical assistance and new markets for products and services."

For example, Fertile Grounds of Noxen, PA, an organic produce cooperative owned and operated by women farmers, received a grant to create a comprehensive marketing campaign for a premium vegetable subscription program. As a member, customers will pay for the entire season up front and receive vegetable boxes weekly. In addition, the cooperative will create a line of products including pesto, salsa and artisan heirloom garlic braids to be sold as gourmet edible decorative gifts.

One of the examples of how an award can make an impact is Keystone Beef Marketing Network, located in New Bethlehem, PA. The sole mission of the non-profit organization is to enhance income for all entities of the Pennsylvania beef industry, with a focus on marketing locally grown cattle to local buyers using the PA Preferred label owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. In addition to ensuring an ongoing profitable market for beef producers, the project will also impact the local feedlot operators, auction barn owners, processors and consumers.

The Berry Patch, a family-owned berry farm in New Florence, PA received a grant to expand its jam production. A no-spray farm, The Berry Patch sells nearly 15,000 jars of jam at farmers markets throughout western Pennsylvania. The grant will allow the farm to expand to additional farmers markets, increasing sales by nearly $60,000.

The table below shows the complete list of VAPG awards in Pennsylvania:

Town

Applicant Name

Award Amount

New Florence

The Berry Patch

$3,000

Newport

North Mountain Pastures

$26,860

Douglasville

Wholesome Dairy Veterinary

$49,990

McDonald

Willow Brook Farms, LLC

$3,730

Millerstown

Glenn R. Cauffman

$80,000

New Bethlehem

Keystone Beef Marketing Network

$35,150

Hop Bottom

Endless Mountains Farm Fresh Cooperative

$37,450

Chalk Hill

Christian Klay Winery

$24,888

Noxen

Fertile Grounds, Inc.

$300,000

Middleburg

Shade Mountain Winery (SMW)

$49,999

Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.

The Value-Added Producer Grants announced today total more than $40.2 million. Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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