USDA Ag Secretary Ann Veneman announced a $260-million grant and loan funding package for 24 states at the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council's annual meeting held Dec. 17 in Minneapolis.

Over 90% of the funds will provide guaranteed loans to electric cooperatives in 14 states. In addition, the dollars are targeted to boost bionergy production, expand rural business ventures and improve economic and community development.

“This administration strongly supports renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel as important parts of the nation's energy plan,” says Veneman, who arrived at the conference riding in an ethanol-powered car.

For more on individual state funding, go to USDA's Web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov.