Rapid City, SD, Feb 27, 2012 -- South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks today announced that a recipient in western South Dakota was selected to receive business development assistance. Funding is made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“I am amazed by the ingenuity and vision of the Wild Idea Buffalo Company,” said Meeks. “This truly epitomizes the intent of the VAPG. They have gone from ‘raising’ buffalo to creating value-added, great-tasting products and in the process hiring more local people and increased sales for local buffalo producers including tribes and tribal members.”
A planning grant in the amount of $17,500 will allow Wild Idea Buffalo Company to expand its market service area. Owner, author, rancher, and biologist Dan O’Brien and his wife Jill began their restoration efforts on this ranch in 1997. To accomplish this, they returned the native herbivore, bison to their homeland, the prairie, and started using natural practices in raising them. Dan and Jill’s vision continues to grow and Wild Idea Buffalo Company is now affiliated with other like mind ranchers that meet Wild Idea’s criteria and philosophy, including Native American ranchers, The Nature Conservancy, and several private herds. Wild Idea Buffalo ranchers:
• Let their bison mature on native grass pastures.
• Never inject their bison with antibiotics or hormones.
• Respectfully, and humanely harvest their buffalo in the field, causing zero stress to the animal.
• Wild Idea Buffalo animals are, never confined, never trucked, and never see the back door of a slaughter plant.
By demanding grass-fed only buffalo, you are directly participating in the restoration and of the Great Plains and the revival of the great large-scale buffalo herds. Wild Idea Buffalo Company’s motto is “Together, one bite at a time, we can make a difference!”
“It is wonderful to get this recognition and encouragement from the USDA. Bison are one of South Dakota’s platinum assets. We should treat them as such,” said Dan O’Brien, owner of Wild Idea Buffalo Company.
Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants funds are made available to agricultural producers seeking to establish or expand markets for their value-added agricultural products. 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 Rural Development serves as the lead federal agency for rural development needs by offering financial and technical assistance to individuals, businesses, and communities. USDA Rural Development programs include funding for day care centers, fire trucks and other community facility projects; the purchase, construction or repair of homes; loans and guarantees to rural businesses to save or create jobs and renewable energy; and loans and grants for water and sewer utility projects.
USDA Rural Development has eight offices in the state serving South Dakotans living in rural areas and communities. Office locations include a state office in Huron, along with area offices in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Yankton.
Further information on this and other programs offered by USDA Rural Development is available by calling (605) 352-1100, by visiting www.rurdev.usda.gov/sd or at any local area office.