Stevens Point, Wis., Aug 19, 2014 -- Contact: Kevin Tuttle 715-701-2589, firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA Announces $1.69 Million for Wisconsin Agricultural Entrepreneurs to Turn Commodities Into Value-Added Products
Funding Supports Local and Regional Food Systems
STEVENS POINT, WIS., Aug. 19, 2014 – USDA Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski, today announced funding to help 15 rural Wisconsin entrepreneurs’ businesses grow, diversify and create jobs.
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program. The program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.
“Value-Added Grant awards mean new opportunities and real potential for job growth and business expansion in rural Wisconsin, particularly the growing local foods market,” said Gruszynski. “Adding value to agricultural production keeps dollars in local communities and strengthens the rural economies of our state,” he concluded.
The grants can be used for a wide range of purposes. They can support local and regional food systems, further the development of the growing bioeconomy, and finance the distribution of local and regional products.
For example, Spirit Lakes Native Products will receive $35,000 in grant funds to hire independent contractors to conduct a feasibility study and develop a business plan for a cooperative of independent Native American maple syrup producers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan. Value-Added Producer Grants often help business develop markets for niche and specialty products.
In Viroqua, Wis., The Fifth Season Cooperative is receiving a $197,696 grant to support custom processing, labor, and other working capital and marketing needs as it expands its individually quick frozen vegetable (IQF) blends to institutional market channels. The Fifth Season Cooperative is a multi-stakeholder cooperative with six membership classes representing the entire value-added chain – from producers, to processors, to transportation, and to institutional buyers in southwest Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, and southeastern Minnesota.
Rural Development’s $10,000 grant will be used to brand and market organic honey to a new customer demographic for labor, packaging, labeling, certification, branding and promotional expenses at Sweet Mountain Farm, LLC in Door County’s Washington Island.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems. Previous Value-Added Producer Grants supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass.
USDA is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and create new products to market.
USDA is awarding Value-Added Producer Grants in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia. A full list of recipients is available here. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
The announcement of today’s funding was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his 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.
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