Deshler Farmers Elevator Company in Henry County was chosen to receive a $65,000 value-added producer grant from USDA. The business will use the money to conduct a feasibility study to determine the profitability of building a container loading facility to export non-GMO and specialty soybeans to overseas markets.
Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture, recently announced 110 such grants for agricultural producers and rural businesses to create jobs and develop new products.
"This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located," says Vilsack. "These awards also will advance USDA's goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems."
Deshler Farmers Elevator Company markets soybeans harvested from within a 25-30 mile radius. They sell to truck markets within a 50-mile radius and rail markets encompassing the Eastern United States. The co-op estimates that, in addition to increasing value to its members, the proposed container loading facility has the potential to add 4-6 new jobs to Henry County as well as increasing business and tax revenue at the town, county and state levels.
"Rather than selling their soybeans strictly on the local commodity market, Deshler Elevator Cooperative members may now have the ability to access more lucrative overseas specialty soybean markets," says Tony Logan, director of Rural Development in Ohio. "Many overseas buyers prefer identity-preserved, non-GMO beans and they are more than willing to pay a premium price for premium quality."
Other awards include 11 projects involving bio-based products. They include grants to convert corn stover to anhydrous ammonia; Miscanthus fiber, wood and goat manure into biochar and enhanced compost; and sorghum to electricity and fertilizer.
Value-Added Producer Grants are part of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA's work to support local and regional food systems. Previous VAPG awards supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass.
USDA Rural Development is funding an array of projects involving locally-produced and marketed foods. These include cheese, wine, reduced-cholesterol dairy products, produce, packaged poultry, pork and beef products, and a variety of processed or prepared foods from locally-grown fruits and vegetables.