Davis, CA, Feb 03, 2012 -- Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that USDA Rural Development has selected 298 recipients, including 17 in California, 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, beginning farmer John Glick owner of Delta Blue Blueberries in Manteca, Calif. received a $49,000 working capital grant to start production of organic blueberry jam. Glick grows organic blueberries and currently sells his fresh produce during the five week harvest season. Through the production of organic blueberry jam, Glick will be able to increase his earning potential on a year-round basis, and increase his customer base beyond the fresh product.
In addition to assistance for individual producers, USDA Rural Development provided grants to three cooperatives. For example, Pacific Coast Producers, a cooperative with over 150 members based in Lodi, Calif., received a $300,000 grant to assist with a marketing campaign. Through social media marketing, Pacific Coast Producers will target younger consumers to promote consumption of canned fruit and tomato products. The cooperative anticipates that these efforts to reach a new market will help increase sales by 10 percent.
In total, USDA Rural Development has selected 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico to receive VAPG funds. For a complete list of recipients receiving grants please click here. 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 nationally, with $2.7 million for California producers. 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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