Financial assistance available for farmers who want to develop value-added products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a program to provide financial assistance to producers, producer-controlled entities, organizations representing agricultural producers, and farmer cooperatives.

While many Michigan farmers have increased their income by adding value to their commodities, others have not had the financial resources to implement such strategies. According to Michigan State University Extension, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a program to provide up to $44 million in financial assistance to producers, producer-controlled entities, organizations representing agricultural producers, and farmer cooperatives. These grants are available to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses.

USDA defines “value-added” as an agricultural commodity or product that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Has undergone a change in physical state
  • Was produced, marketed or segregated in a manner that enhances its value or expands the customer base of the product
  • Is aggregated and marketed as a locally-produced food

These grants can be used to develop business plans and feasibility studies or acquire working capital to operate a value-added business venture. While a one to one match is required to receive these funds, USDA allows for half of the match to be sweat equity. Priority will be given to projects that increase opportunities for small and mid-sized farms as well as for beginning farmers, veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers.

USDA is offering a simplified application form for single farmer projects requesting working capital projects of less than $50,000. These applications will not require an independent feasibility study or business plan.

Additional information about this opportunity can be found on the USDA website.

Applying for these grants is not overly burdensome but do require a few steps that may take several days to a few weeks. The deadline for applying is twofold, you must submit your proposal on grants.gov by June 24, 2016 or deliver to USDA by July 1, 2016.

Acquiring these grant funds can assist Michigan Agriculture and increase your income. Best of luck to those who decide to apply.

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