USDA awards $499,958 in grants to 2 SD businesses

Farm Forum

EAU CLAIRE Wis. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is providing more than $45 million to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide develop new product lines. USDA is investing in 326 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Two of these projects are located in South Dakota.

“Value-Added Producer Grants are one of USDA’s most sought-after funding sources for veteran and beginning farmers, and rural-based businesses,” Vilsack said. “These grants provide a much-needed source of financing to help producers develop new product lines and increase their income, and keep that income in their communities. 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.”

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.

In South Dakota:

• Badlands Distillery, LLC based in Kadoka is receiving a $250,000 grant to allow a small family farm to increase its profitability by producing a value-added product from corn. Distilled spirits will be produced and marketed by this new small business.

• Schiltz Goose Farm, Inc. based in Sisseton is receiving a $249,958 grant to provide working capital costs associated with extracting goose egg yolks from the eggs. The yolks will provide biopharmaceutical companies a goose antibody for parvovirus to treat canines. Working capital funds will be used to pay for processing costs including personnel, supplies, small equipment, and freezer storage.

USDA has awarded 1,442 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183.2 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. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as a key component of rural economic development.

In 2014, Schade Vineyards, Inc. in Volga, S.D., received a $49,999 VAPG grant to assist with working capital to diversify the operation into locally grown and produced fruit juices.