Montpelier, VT, Feb 03, 2012 --
Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced that USDA has selected recipients in 45 states and Puerto Rico, including three New Hampshire agricultural producers, to receive business development assistance and pursue marketing opportunities for agricultural commodities. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development assistance under the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“These grants provide the capital resources necessary for business growth and job creation,” said Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development State Director. “Through these investments USDA is strengthening the economic foundation of rural New Hampshire.”
For example, this past year Poverty Lane Orchards, in Lebanon, used their grant to expand their craft finished fermented cider into new markets. The cider is fermented from specialized apple varieties grown in the Northeast. These apple varieties, generally not consumable as fresh off the tree, once processed into cider …
In Madison, The Big Farm, a 21 flock dairy sheep operation owned and operated by Paul Priestman used his grant for working capital for additional labor to produce on-farm sheep’s milk cheese. Priestman, a Beginning Farmer, also used these funds to market and sell his cheese products on-line through his new website http://www.thebigfarmcreamery.com/ ….
Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, owned by Carol Soule and Bruce Dawson, previously received a grant for economic planning activities—conducting a feasibility study, establishing a business and marketing plan for developing precooked, frozen, packaged meatballs from boneless, underutilized cuts of high quality beef. They were selected this year to receive a working capital grant to expand the market for their beef trimmings by selling one-pound packages of seasoned all beef sausage to grocery stores in NH, VT and Boston MA. Their feasibility study showed them it was not feasible to market the trimmings as meatballs but the bulk sausage would be feasible. This small family farm raises ‘free range’ Scottish Highland Cattle, which produce lean and tender beef without hormones or growth stimulants.
Windy Ridge Orchard, LLC, in North Haverhill, received a grant to expand retail customer base and over-all traffic to the farm market and to develop wholesale accounts. Their blueberry wine will be processed, bottled and marketed using wine tastings at the farm and at local restaurants and regional conferences.
Springvale Farms, owned by Debora & Douglas Erb, of Landaff, received a grant to hire a full time cheesemaker and increase production and sales of their raw Cow’s milk farmstead cheese: Landaff (Welsh style) and Kinsman Ridge (washed rind, soft French tome) and to expand their retail customer base and develop wholesale accounts.
For a complete list of all 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. 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 .
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).