USDA Offers Value-Added Grants for Domestic Fuels

Cindy Zimmerman

USDA USDA is putting its’ money where its’ mouth is when it comes to renewable energy. Over $19 million dollars in grant money is now available for value-added agribusiness ventures, with priority given to biodiesel, ethanol and other renewable energy projects. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns made the announcement of the funding availability at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting this week in Nashville, TN. The Value Added Producer Grant program encourages the development of renewable energy projects and is part of a comprehensive energy strategy announced by Johanns in early December to help agriculture deal with the impact of high energy costs and develop long-term solutions.
USDA has already invested close to $290 million in renewable energy over the past five years, and starting this year the agency is doubling the amount of grant money that can be awarded to a producer to $300,000. The grants may be used for planning activities, such as feasibility studies, marketing and business plans needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product, or to provide working capital for operating a value-added business venture, marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.
Interested??? The deadline for applications is March 31, and details can be found in the December 21, 2005 issue of the Federal Register.