The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is assisting producer groups in applying for the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) value-added agriculture grants available.

AgMRC is a virtual library of specific agricultural commodity, business development and consulting resources for producers involved in value-added agriculture, located at www.agmrc.org.

“There is a direct link on the home page of the site to take producers directly to the federal notice of funds available, a USDA value-added grant template and tips on writing grants,” said Mary Holz-Clause, co-director of the center. “Additional resources for producers to develop their business or to find a new market opportunity for an existing business are also available.”

The resource link on AgMRC for the value-added producer grants is listed at http://www.agmrc.org/business/valueaddedgrant.html.

Producers can investigate specific commodity information on many different niche opportunities and can locate specific laws, consultants and individual contacts within their individual state to assist them in the grant application process.

“The consultant database available on the Web site includes specific commodity consultants, business development consultants and those consultants specializing in grant writing,” said Don Hofstrand, co-director of AgMRC.

Last week, RBS announced the availability of $13.2 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2004 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. The grant will fund one of the following two activities:

  1. Developing feasibility studies or business plans (including marketing plans or other planning activities) needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product; or
  2. Acquiring working capital to operate a value-added business venture or an alliance that will allow the producers to better compete in domestic and international markets.

Value-added products are defined as follows:

  1. A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam);
  2. The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan (such as organically produced products);
  3. The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system).

Value-added also includes using any agricultural product or commodity to produce renewable energy on a farm or ranch.

Applications must be completed and submitted to the appropriate State USDA Rural Development office as soon as possible, but no later than 4 p.m. on July 30, 2004.

Located at Iowa State University (ISU), AgMRC is a national center for value-added agriculture resources. Partnering institutions include ISU Extension, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at ISU, the ISU Department of Economics, Kansas State University and the University of California. For more information, visit www.agmrc.org or toll-free at 866-277-5567.