Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today (Oct. 28) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing more than $45 million to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide develop new product lines.
USDA is investing in 325 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant program. There are 14 projects in New York state receiving money.
"Economic development initiatives like this one are working – the unemployment rate in rural America is at an eight-year low and incomes rose 3.4 percent last year. Small business entrepreneurship, which Value-Added Producer Grants support, is a major reason why rural America is a making a comeback," he said.
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products.
Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.
USDA has awarded 1,441 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183 million. Congress increased funding for the program in the 2014 Farm Bill.
The grants are a key element of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates the department's work on local and regional food systems.Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as a key component of rural economic development.
The 14 NY farms and their projects are:
** Thousand Islands Winery, $250,000, to expand sales and promotion of rye whiskey and bourbon whiskey products.
** Devine Gardens, $30,743, to increase sales of its high-value compost produced by worms.
** Hathaway Farms, $250,000, to enhance marketing and increase sales of grape juice concentrate made from the farm's grapes and sold regionally to restaurants and stores.
** Millitello Farms, $41,112, to cover the labor, advertising and building utilities' cost; purchase other produce, like apples, and various promotional items.
** Organic Indoors Gardens of Poughkeepsie, $49,000, to expand sales and promotion of hard cider products.
** Partyka & Sons Farms, $170,465, to expand sales and promotion of wholesale and home-delivered bottled milk products.
** Celk Distilling, $200,000, to expand sales and promotion of its Community Supported Agriculture farm products.
** Eden Works, $250,000, to undertake a marketing campaign designed to increase sales of fresh salad greens grown in New York City.
** Fishkill Farms, $53,625, to explore the feasibility of creating a cidery and producing hard cider from apples grown in the farm's organic and ecologically grown apple trees.
** Juniper Hill Farm, $49,710, to epand sales and promote microgreen products.
** King Brothers Dairy, $250,000, to expand sales of Rosebud wines.
** Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, $250,000, to increase sales of Rosebud wines.
** Vizcarra Family Vineyards, $250,000, to expand sales and promotion of roasted pumpkin seed products.
** Donovan Orchards, $185,000, to provide working capital for a startup hard cider company, Rootstock Ciderworks.