Support for Farm and Ranch Entrepreneurship Available

Perseverance and dedication to entrepreneurship helped small businesses on America’s country roads and small town mainstreets create nearly one million jobs while big business and industry were still shedding workers during the last recession back in 2001-2003. Rural entrepreneurship led the nation out of our last recession and it can do so again.
Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for $37 million in Value Added Producer Grants to develop value-added agricultural business ventures. August 29, 2011 is the application deadline.

Creating value-added ventures fosters entrepreneurship, expands rural economic opportunities, creates jobs and keeps wealth in rural communities. These grants will promote business expansion and entrepreneurship by assisting farmers, ranchers and producer-owned businesses in starting and expanding ventures that increase the value of raw farm and ranch products. Marketing unique and high quality food products also adds value. Many consumers will pay a premium for locally produced, high-quality, natural or organic farm-raised products.

For example, Pinn-Oak Ridge Farm received a $150,000 grant to brand and direct market their pasture-raised lamb allowing them to expand their market from 40 restaurants and grocery stores in Wisconsin and Illinois to 60.

These grants are popular and competitive but help is available. Farmers and ranchers can call the Farm Bill Helpline at (402) 687-2100 to speak to a real person who is knowledgeable about the program. The Center for Rural Affairs has also created Value Added Fact Sheets and other additional information, which can be accessed at http://www.cfra.org/node/2672 and http://www.cfra.org/resources/vapg/fact_sheet

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