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Grants available for farmers and rural small businesses

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Even in today's economy, there are federal grants available to assist Hoosier farmers and rural small businesses with needed capital to add value to their products or improve energy efficiency on their farms.

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is always looking for opportunities to encourage and promote agriculture within the state and feels the following federal grants are an additional resource to offer Hoosier farmers.

The two grants available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are the Value Added Producers Grant and the Rural Energy for America Program Grants/Renewable Energy Systems/Energy Efficiency Improvement Program (REAP/RES/EEI).

"Each year Congress appropriates funding for various grants to accomplish specific goals and initiatives within federal government agencies. These grants are excellent opportunities for farmers or small businesses to go directly on-line, apply for the grant and get the funding," said Amy Eizinger-Ott, ISDA grants coordinator. "They do not need to be a part of any group and they will be pleasantly surprised at the numerous resources available to assist them through the application process."

The USDA's Value Added Producers Grant is intended for the independent producer, agriculture producer group, farmer/rancher cooperative or majority-controlled producer-based business venture.

Funds can be used to create marketing opportunities and to help develop business plans for viable marketing opportunities. Applications are due to USDA by July 6.

For more information, visit USDA's Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vad....

USDA's REAP/RES/EEI provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

Eligible renewable energy projects include projects that produce energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources.

The projects can produce any form of energy including, heat, electricity or fuel. Projects must be located in a rural area, be technically feasible and be owned by the applicant. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs. Grant requests can range from $2,500-$500,000 for renewable energy systems and $1,500-$250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.

Additional information can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/9006..., and applications are due July 31, 2009.

For more information on these or other current grants available, go the ISDA Grants Web page. It is updated weekly with current federal and foundation funding that agricultural producers' may find useful.

In addition to grants there are a number of resources listed on this site to assist first time grant applicants along with step-by-step guides on how to register with the federal government.

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