Forum staff reports, Published March 04 2011
USDA announces changes in producer grant programBISMARCK – Changes in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s value-added producer grant program take effect on March 25, according to a release from USDA Rural Development State Director Jasper Schneider.
He said the changes will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. They will also assist independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and will support local and regional supply networks.
The regulations address program changes included in the 2008 farm bill. These revisions:
- Provide up to 10 percent funding to beginner farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
- Provide up to 10 percent funding to local and/or regional supply networks that link producers with companies marketing their products.
- Give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of small and medium-sized family farms.
- Extend grant eligibility to producers who market their products within their state or within a 400-mile radius.
In addition to the rule changes, USDA Rural Development is seeking comments on the interim rule and the best way to facilitate the participation of tribal entities and tribal governments in the Value Added Producer Grant program. For information on how to submit comments, see Page 10090 of the Feb. 23 Federal Register.
Value-Added Producer Grants may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.