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Farmers, ag businesses, entrepreneurs targeted for new grant program

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Farmers, ag businesses, entrepreneurs targeted for new grant program
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Minnesota agricultural producers and processors can now apply for grants to implement value added projects to their operations.

A total of $700,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), established by the legislature to advance Minnesota's agricultural and renewable energy industries.

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The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety.

Specifically, these grants are intended to:

• initiate or expand livestock product processing;

• create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses;

• purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade, or modernize value added businesses;

• increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food safety plan

• increase farmers' processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-to-school and other markets

Proposals that have a meat processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar type of food safety plan will receive priority, but all value added proposals are encouraged to apply. Small to medium sized operations will also receive special consideration.

Proposals that include business planning, feasibility studies, marketing planning and succession planning are eligible for 50 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $30,000.

The grants will be distributed in two rounds. Round one applications must be received by the MDA no later than 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. Round two applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on March 1, 2013. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person, or by email. If a proposal is emailed, the time and date it is received by the program administrator will be considered the received-by date.

Applications are available at www.mda.state.mn.

us/valueadded.aspx. For more information, contact David Weinand, MDA grants administrator, at 651-201-6646 or david.weinand@

state.mn.us.

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