Farmers, ag businesses, entrepreneurs targeted for new grant program

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Minnesota agricultural producers can now apply for grants to implement value-added projects to their operations. A total of $700,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program, established by the legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable-energy industries. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety.

Specifically, these grants are intended to accomplish the following: initiate or expand livestock product processing; create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses; purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade or modernize value-added businesses; increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food-safety plan; and increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-to-school and other markets.

Proposals that have a met processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing Good Agricultural Practices or similar type of food-safety plan will receive priority, but all value-added proposals are encourage to apply. Small- to medium-size operations will also receive special consideration.

Equipment purchases or physical improvements are eligible for 25 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $700.000 with a completed business plan or food-safety plan. A business or food-safety plan must outline what equipment and improvements are necessary to fulfill the plan.

The grants will be distributed in two rounds. Round-one applications must be received by the MDA no later than 4 p.m. Dec. 31. Round-two applications must be received by no later than 4 p.m. March 1. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person or by email. If a proposal is emailed, the time and date it is received by the program administrator will be considered the received-by date.

Applications are available at www.mda.state.mn.us/valueadded.aspx. For more information, contact David Weinand, MDA grants administrator, at 651-201-6646 or david.weinand@state.mn.us.

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