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ND Farmers Can Boost Profits – If They Beat a U-S-D-A Grant Deadline

March 17, 2008

Lyons, NE – North Dakota farmers and ranchers with idead to expand their operations can get some help from the U.S. Deapartment of Agriculture, but the grant application deadline is just two weeks away. The "Value-Added Producer" grant helps farmers begin more profitable operations, such as cheese production, biofuel processing or wind energy generation, on existing farmland.

Mike Heavrin with the Center for Rural Affairs says millions of dollars are available for farmers who want to start such on-farm businesses, and there's a good reason to do so -- increasing a farm's overall profitability by diversifying its output. For every dollar consumers spend on farm-related products, Heavrin explains, the farmer pockets an average of only four cents.

"The Value-Added program is meant to enable farmers to get a larger part of that consumer dollar than four cents."

Heavrin notes, however, that many applications are turned down by the federal government simply because the forms weren't filled out correctly. This year, there's an easy way for applicants to avoid that problem.

"The University of Nebraska Food Processing Center worked with the USDA to put out a template, and if you look at their Web site, it will help anybody that wants to apply for this grant complete all the grant requirements and do it right."

Applications must be postmarked no later than March 31 to qualify. Past grants have helped North Dakota farms market brand-named beans, animal feeds, and soy-based snacks, and also to develop an ethanol production facility.

The online assistance from the University of Nebraska is available at fpc.unl.edu

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND