USDA has extended nearly $10.5 million in grants to help producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge.
In Nebraska, value-added producer grants awarded included $300,000 to Burbach Countryside Dairy of Hartington. The funds will be used to help market and promote milk and cheese from Dean and Lisa Burbach' s dairy.
The Burbachs have a small family-owned dairy. Their bottled milk is sold in more than 75 stores in Nebraska. Four jobs were retained and four to five jobs will be created by this grant, which also had $300,000 in leveraged funding.
"U.S. agriculture is responsible for millions of American jobs--both directly and indirectly," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Supporting farmers and related businesses strengthens rural economies and helps fuel innovation and product development. It's also an important part of USDA programs that link farmers to their communities, and it underscores the many benefits of local and regional food systems."
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities.
In fiscal year 2014, the maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.
Grant applications are due by Feb. 24, 2014. More information about how to apply is available by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.