Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Assist Agricultural Producers and Cooperatives Across the Country
Rural Enterprises from Maine to California Benefit from Business Assistance Grants
WASHINGTON, June 3, 2010 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today during the National Summit of Rural America that USDA has selected recipients in 45 states and Puerto Rico 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 program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.
"As part of the Obama administration's work to turn the economy around, USDA is acting as an important catalyst for business development and job creation in rural America," Vilsack said. "These grants will improve financial returns and help create jobs for agricultural producers, businesses and families across the Nation. USDA is investing in farmers, ranchers and cooperatives to strengthen the economic foundation of rural America."
For example, in Altoona, Wis., the Producers & Buyers Co-op has been selected to receive a working capital grant to build a value-added food chain infrastructure, expand capacity for locally produced agricultural products and help develop markets. The Co-op links local, sustainable farms with institutional buyers in a 12-county area of West Central Wisconsin. Members include producers, institutional buyers, food processors and those from the private transportation system.
In Reardon, Wash., Columbia Plateau Producers, LLC, which is owned by 21 wheat-producing families in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, has been selected to receive a working capital grant to expand the marketing capacity of the organization. All farmers in the cooperative are committed to no-till farming which saves fuel, prevents soil erosion and limits water runoff. The wheat produced is milled into high quality flour, marketed to bakeries, food manufacturers, and flour marketers in the Pacific Northwest under the "Shepherd's Grain" brand.
Meanwhile, the Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC in Champaign, Ill., has been selected to receive a grant to complete a feasibility study, market assessment and business plan for an on-farm, goat-milk-to-gelato operation. The firm is diversifying into areas including perennial fruit trees and berry production; goat pastures; hayfields and prairie. The Creamery emphasizes a forage-based diet — of seasonal and diverse pastures and locally grown alfalfa and grass hay — for its herd of Nubian and La Mancha dairy goats.
The Value-Added Producer Grants announced today total more than $22.5 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, and agricultural producer groups. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.
A list of recipients receiving grants is shown below. Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.
Red Mountain Viticulture, LLC dba LaCoye Vineyards; $120,000
AHG Related Properties; $300,000
Whidbey Island Meat Processing Steering Committee; $15,000
Wilcox Farms Inc.; $49,000
Columbia Plateau Producers, LLC; $300,000
Stemilt Growers; $50,000
Driftless Organics; $40,820
Shephard Song Farm, LLC; $49,000
Springbrook Organic Dairy, LLC ; $26,000
Producers & Buyers Co-op; $54,659
Clear Springs Fish Company, LLC; $300,000
Six Rivers Producers Cooperative; $149,740
Flower/Therbs Berry Hill Farms; $300,000
Parallel 44 Wisconsin Wine; $300,000
Berkshire Hogs Superior Meats; $300,000
Klinger Farms; $300,000
Westby Cooperative Creamery; $150,000
Schmitt Timber Corporation; $197,134
Kruger Lumber Co.; $150,000
Bushman Riverside Ranch Inc.; $150,000
Wyoming Wheat Growers Association; $19,202
The Rural Summit is an opportunity for rural Americans to share their vision and ideas for creating a more prosperous and more promising future for rural America. Farmers, ranchers, and foresters from around the country, as well as policymakers from all levels of government and community leaders are discussing the key priorities and policies necessary to get rural America growing again.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. 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. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $138 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
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).