USDA's Rural Development office is calling for another round of applications from farmers to help develop value-added revenue. This time, up to $14 million in grants will be available for projects that help produce bio-based products from agricultural commodities.
The value-added producer grants program is designed to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. These grants can be used to assist in the funding of an anaerobic digester if it's part of a project that adds value to an agricultural product. For example, if digested manure solids are going to be made into a commercial fertilizer product or if the methane generated is used to power the value-added process (milk processing, cheese making).
Awards may be made for either economic planning or working capital activities related to the processing and/or marketing of valued-added agricultural products. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000.
The maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000. USDA requires that every dollar in grant funds be matched, either in the form of cash or eligible in-kind contributions.
Economic planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing of the proposed value-added product. Eligible working capital expenses include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses directly related to your value-added project.
You can't use the funds to purchase property or construct facilities, or to purchase equipment. Program regulation provide more information on eligible uses of the grant.
You must be one of the following applicant types: an independent producer, an ag producer group, a farm cooperative, or a majority-controlled producer-based business venture.
The deadline to apply for funding is Oct. 15, 2012. Questions should be directed to your nearest USDA Rural Development State Office.