Applications are due in Washington, D.C. by this Friday for those interested in qualifying, potentially, for a new round of value-added producer grants across the country, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said in a press release.
According to Lorraine P. Shin, state director of USDA’s Rural Development Office in Hilo on the Big Island, producers who are seeking help with new projects that further add value to farm commodities may qualify for a piece of nearly $20 million in grants that will be awarded on a competitive basis nationwide.
Shin said that, since 2001 when the program started, Hawai‘i farmers and other producers have received over $850,000 in grant money, including Rodney and Karol Haraguchi of W.T. Haraguchi Farm in Hanalei Valley.
Grants are available to producers, members of producer groups, those in farm cooperatives, and representatives of majority-controlled producer business ventures.
The grants can be used for planning activities needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product, or for acquiring working capital to operate a value-added business venture that will allow producers to better compete in domestic and international markets.
According to Shin, a typical producer grant could be used to look at marketing jam made from liliko‘i, marketing organic foods, converting animal waste into methane energy, or a number of other value-added enterprises.
Shin said that often producers are apprehensive about filling out an application because they think their idea may not qualify for the funding.
“If you feel too overwhelmed by the application process, or if you are apprehensive about the program, give us a call in Hilo,’’ she said.
Shin said producers can call Tim O’Connell, assistant to the state director, at 1-808-933-8313 if they have any questions regarding potential projects, or have questions regarding the application process.
Paper applications for grants must be sent directly to: Cooperative Programs, Attn: VAPG Program STOP 3250 – Room 4016, South 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, D.C. 20250–3250.
The phone number that should be used for overnight packages is (202) 720–7558.
Electronic grant applications are submitted to http://www.grants.gov, following the instructions found on this Web site.
For details on the application process, eligibility requirements, and other information, go to the USDA VAPG Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov
USDA Rural Development leaders’ mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents.
As a venture-capital entity, Rural Development officials have invested over $63 billion since the beginning of the Bush administration to provide equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.
As a result, over 1.1 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments.
Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office, or by visiting USDA’s Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.