Temple, Texas, May 06, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the selection of 110 grants to agricultural producers and rural businesses 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. The announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located,” Vilsack said. “These awards also will advance USDA’s goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems.”
The 110 awardees were selected for USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.
“This program enables America’s agriculture producers to expand their product offerings, revenue, and increase economic opportunity by bringing additional value to what they currently produce,” said Paco Valentin, Texas Rural Development State Director. “We are pleased to offer funding to rural producers whose endeavors will increase the value of agricultural commodities in their communities.”
The awards announced today include 3 projects involving Texas based businesses. Capstone Plants Inc. (J. Berry Nursery), Grand Saline, Texas, was award funding through this announcement to be used as working capital to focus on new product developments utilizing non-standard production methods, enhanced packaging, and promotion of the Black Diamond Crapemyrtle. Windmill Hill Ranch, of Wimberly, secured funding through the VAPG program to develop a feasibility study to determine the economic, social and environmental benefits of transforming surplus forage into value-added soil amendments. Additionally, Texas Daily Harvest, of Wood County, was granted funding to increase the processing and distribution of certified organic vegetables throughout the North Texas region.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an important element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems. Previous VAPG awards supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass, http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm.
USDA Rural Development is funding an array of projects involving locally produced and marketed foods. These include cheese, wine, reduced-cholesterol dairy products, produce, packaged poultry, pork and beef products, and a variety of processed or prepared foods from locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, the VAPG program has helped more than 600 agricultural producers and rural businesses. Through 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.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs 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.