Colorado, Feb 03, 2012 -- 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, in Northern Colorado there is a growing demand for processed produced meat products. For the last two seasons, Jodar Farms, LLC in Fort Collins, CO, has been operating a small scale home grown chicken and pork business selling directly to consumers to address the high demand. To assist them in their efforts, they were awarded a $26,890 Working Capital VAPG to help expand their customer base and develop a strategic marketing campaign.
Table Mountain Farms. LLC in Golden, CO was awarded a $41,550 Planning VAPG. Owners Quint and Jennifer Redmond have been working to implement development with sustainable agriculture at its core across the Front Range by selling their produce locally. Through this grant the Redmonds will be able process their vegetable commodities (tomatoes, chile peppers, and cucumbers) into various value added products such as, but not limited to, tomato sauce, pickles, and relishes.
The Sweetgrass Cooperative, a grass-fed beef cooperative in Hillside, CO was awarded a $226,000 Working Capital VAPG. The funding provided will allow the entity to enter and expand into an emerging market for natural and organic high-quality grass-fed beef. The cooperative will hire a professional marketing and co-op management to develop a brand and to increase production and membership.
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 in Colorado is available by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/co