News Release
Release No.STELPRD4015198
ContactJessica Bowser(785) 271-2701
Topeka, Kansas, Mar 16, 2012 --

@@USDA Rural Development State Director Patty Clark announced that five Kansas agricultural businesses have received business development assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“Kansas is a national leader in agricultural exports, and USDA Rural Development is assisting innovative agricultural producers that are looking to further process their agricultural products,” stated Clark.  “The Value-Added Producer Grants are federal investments that will further spur the agricultural economy in our state and provide jobs in rural Kansas.”      

Five Kansas agricultural businesses received financing through the Value-Added Producer Grant program that totaled more than $700,000. 

•  Brown Honey Farms, Inc. based in Washington County received $300,000 to develop additional markets and products using raw honey.  The company is the Official Honey Drink for the Arena Football League and K-State Athletics.   

•  Johannes Farms based in Brown County received $9,400 to dehull, process, package and market food-grade oats.

•  McCarty Family Farms, LLC based in Thomas County received $300,000 to expand its dairy processing facility to provide pasteurized skimmed condensed rBST-free milk and heavy cream to the Dannon Company to process into yogurt. 

•  Schmidt Farms, Inc., based in Rawlins County received $49,714 to expand its beef product line to include chicken and add an additional market.   

•  Thayer Feed, LLC based in Neosho County received $46,945 to process organic chicken feed into consumer-friendly packages. 

“We moved the McCarty Family Farm from Pennsylvania to Kansas because there were limited opportunities for our dairy to expand,” stated Ken McCarty, Manager/Owner of McCarty Family Farms.  “The Value-Added Producer Grant fit nicely with our goals for expanding the dairy processing facility to create a ready-to-use dairy product.  By creating a value-added product we are eliminating some of the uncertainty with milk prices for our business and Dannon, as well as providing greater predictability of yogurt prices for consumers.”

USDA Rural Development partnered with K-State Research and Extension to hold Value-Added Producer Grant workshops last fall.  This approach assisted Kansas agricultural businesses with applying for the grants, and all five applications received in the state were funded this year.  Through this outreach partnership between USDA Rural Development and K-State Research and Extension, Kansas producers were able to better compete at the national level for funding.

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. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.   

“Honey as a commodity has been underpriced and undervalued for the past five years, and we are working to create products that effectively utilize raw honey produced in the United States,” stated Dr Ron Fessenden, Director of WorldClassEmprise, LLC.  “With assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, Brown Honey Farms will be able to creatively market honey products that offer numerous health benefits.”         

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.

For additional information regarding this and other USDA Rural Development programs visit the Agency’s website, or call the Agency’s state office at 785-271-2700.