Bonanza Valley Voice -

Redhead Creamery earns USDA marketing grant

 

Randy Olson

The Redhead Creamery in rural Brooten.

USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer recently announced that USDA is investing nearly $1.1 million to help nine businesses in rural Minnesota. The funding comes from USDA Rural Development's Value-Added Producer Grant program.

"These grants help create expansion and job opportunities for local producers and rural small businesses," Landkamer said. "USDA's support is especially important for beginning farmers and smaller farm operations by providing capital to expand marketing opportunities and develop new uses for existing products."

Value-Added Producer Grants can be used to develop new agricultural products or additional markets for existing ones. Military veterans, socially-disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given priority when applying for these grants.

Examples of award recipients include Shared Ground Farmers' Cooperative (SGFC), a cooperative owned by farms in the Twin Cities region that markets sustainable, locally grown produce and grass-fed meats direct to consumers, wholesalers and retailers. SGFC is receiving a $25,000 grant to explore expanding markets in southern Minnesota local vegetable farming.

In Brooten, the Redhead Creamery, LLC is receiving a $250,000 grant to use as working capital to market their new on-farm creamery that produces artisan cheeses. Driftless Spirits in Houston County has been selected for a $49,750 grant that will help the company market whiskey made from locally grown, organic, kosher grain.

Nationwide, USDA is investing nearly $34 million to help 258 businesses through the VAPG program.

Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the department's work on local and regional food systems. These are major contributors to rural economic development. Congress increased funding for the program when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That measure builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past seven years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 33 Value-Added Producer Grants, throughout rural Minnesota, totaling almost $6 million. Nationwide, approximately 1,115 grants were awarded through USDA's VAPG program, totaling $154 million. Approximately 18 percent of the grants and 14 percent of total funding nationwide has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. During 2015, more than one-third of Value-Added awards went to farmers and ranchers developing products for the local foods sector.

For more information on VAPG and other USDA Rural Development programs, please visitwww.rd.usda.gov/mn and contact your local area office.

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