Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today 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. Today's 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."
In today's announcement, 110 awardees are being 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.
The awards announced today include 11 projects involving bio-based products. They include grants to convert: corn stover to anhydrous ammonia; miscanthus fiber, wood and goat manure into biochar and enhanced compost; and sorghum to electricity and fertilizer.
A number of Native American applicants will also receive support for their projects. For example, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm & Ranch Enterprise of Colorado will receive over $92,000 to bring a cornmeal product to market. This grant will help the Tribe market and distribute the Indian cornmeal products, and secure customers. This year marks the first time that tribal entities have received funding through the VAPG program.
Glenmary Gardens in Bristol, Va., will use a $213,000 grant to expand the processing and marketing of locally grown fruits and vegetables into jellies, ice cream, and flavored syrups. Glenmary Gardens is a family-owned operation providing freshly grown berries, fruits and vegetables to the Virginia and Tennessee Tri-City area. Old Wood LLC in Las Vegas, N.M., will use a $300,000 working capital award to expand sales of its unique, engineered-panel and wood-block flooring made from small-diameter trees.
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.
Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative in Madison, Wis., will use a $150,000 working capital award to assist in the startup of a regional fresh produce food hub and packinghouse that was created to enhance access to wholesale markets for the local farm economy and create private-sectors jobs. The food hub will aggregate local produce sold under the Wisconsin Farmed brand.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, the VAPG program has helped more than 600 agricultural producers and rural businesses.
Through the 2008 Farm Bill, 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.
For a complete list of Value-Added Producer Grant award recipients selected today. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
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.