Washington, DC, May 01, 2013 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Glenda Humiston announced the selection of 7 grants to agricultural producers and rural businesses in California that will help create jobs and develop new products. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These projects take great California-grown foods and turn them into marketable products,” said Humiston. “The quality of our agriculture is unsurpassed, and these producers and small businesses will utilize the value-added producer grants to develop markets for some truly outstanding products. We are pleased to lend our support to create new jobs for Californians.”
The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products. For example, Challenge Dairy Products in Dublin, CA will use their grant to market a new light, spreadable butter with half the calories and fat of regular butter, thus benefiting the nearly 500 members of their dairy cooperative.
Nishimori Family Farms and San Miguel Produce in Oxnard, CA will be marketing ready-to-eat salads and ready-to-cook stir fry kits made with locally grown Asian vegetables as well as promote a new line of organic cooking greens.
Frank Konyn Dairy in Escondido, CA is researching the market for artisan cheese production and fresh, locally sourced milk to area stores and farmers markets. Valley Fig Growers of Fresno, CA are producing a fig spread to market to delis and supermarkets, providing a high-quality alternative to foreign-sourced figs.
Pacific Farms and Orchards in Tehama, CA are conducting a feasibility study on ways to utilize a highly nutritious juice byproduct from olive oil production. Rancho Llano Seco in Chico, CA will be developing new markets to better utilize all the parts of their organic pork and beef operations.
Through the 2008, Congress made several enhancements to the VAPG program. It expanded the definition of value-added to include locally-produced agricultural food products, and it gave priority to projects that focus on increasing opportunities for small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $176 billion in 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.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration - the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.