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Value-Added Producer Grants grow value of Idaho products

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo says eight Idaho agricultural producers are in line for more than $1.5 million in Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program. Crapo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit, says the federal grants are provided to independent producers and agricultural producer groups for either planning activities or working capital. During the process of Farm Bill reauthorization, Crapo has supported the reauthorization and expansion of Value-Added Producer Grants.

"The Farm Bill approved by Congress in 2002 contains provisions for the Value-Added Producer Grant program, which helps agricultural producer groups and independent producers develop strategies that will ultimately add value to their products," Crapo said. "These grants encourage market innovations which are good for Idaho producers and everyone who is involved with our rural economy."

As an example, Golden Reserve Beef is a vertically-integrated natural beef company that sells its own naturally-produced beef containing no hormone implants, and fed with a traditional diet of corn-based rations. The VAPG will allow the company to produce a marketing campaign to promote its products. The goal is to increase customer base, thereby increasing revenues by a projected 140 percent.

A Burley co-op also hopes to make a big difference in its community. High Desert Milk is using its own funding to build a processing plant for milk powder. The Value-Added funding will be used for working capital and marketing costs, which will increase independent producer revenue by an estimated 10 to 15 percent. Co-op President Dan Ward says one of the goals of the producer-owned cooperative is to make Burley a better community to raise future generations.

"This year Idaho received eight awards, the most we have ever had for this program," said Mike Field, State Director for USDA Rural Development. "We have a remarkable group of specialists that go the extra mile to let rural communities know about our programs, and their hard work helps our producers prosper. These grants will bring new economic opportunities and increased income for rural Idaho producers."

Those awarded the Value-Added Producer Grants include:

• Clearwater County Ax, Genesee, $300,000 for marketing plans for garbanzo beans.
• Golden Reserve Beef, Buhl, $271,556 for processing and marketing brand recognition.
• High Desert Milk, Burley, $300,000 for working capital associated with nonfat dry milk powder.
• John Steven and Stacie Ballard, Gooding, $18,254 for cheese marketing studies and retail.
• Potato Products of Idaho, Rigby, $299,300 for processing and marketing of value-added products.
• Potato Variety Marketing Institute, Eagle, $150,000 for potato marketing in the U.S. and abroad.
• Treasure Valley Forest Products, Boise, $149,500 for small-diameter wood product marketing.
• Weiser River Signature Beef, Indian Valley, $14,500 for direct marketing efforts.