Editor:

The Value Added Producer Grant program, one of the few U.S. Department of Agriculture grant programs available directly to farmers and ranchers, is now open. The grants help farmers and ranchers offset costs of developing or expanding their added-value products.

USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for the Value Added program which offers two types of grants through March 22.

Planning grants of up to $75,000 help pay for feasibility studies and business plans that support future financing and business development. Working Capital grants of up to $250,000 can cover marketing and product development costs. Projects more than $50,000 require a previous feasibility study and business plan to document viability of the product.

Individual farm businesses, as well as groups of farmers and ranchers, may apply for funds to develop new or existing products. Applicants must own at least 50% of the agricultural commodity being addressed. Matching funds (in-kind and/or cash) of 50% of the project are required.

Registration with USDA as a business is required; this free process is not immediate, so register early.

Contact your local USDA Rural Development office for application materials and advice on a successful proposal. Wyatt Fraas at the Center for Rural Affairs also can advise you on your project ideas. Contact him at wyattf@cfra.org or 402-254-6893.

Wyatt Fraas  - Farm & 

Community Asst Director, 

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons, NE