Nine Iowa businesses have won rural development grants from the U.S.D.A. worth more than $1.2 million. U.S.D.A. Rural Development State Director Bill Menner says the grants are part of the “Value-Added Producer” program.
“These grants are intended to help ag producers add value to their products. Sometimes they’re doing feasibility studies, sometimes it’s working capital, sometimes it’s helping them to promote the products. But these are all value-added producers who are doing really interesting things in rural communities,” Menner says. The producers make and grow a variety of items, including goat cheese and lotions.
“There’s an orchard that’s going to produce hard cider,” Menner says, “three different dairies using working capital to enhance or increase their production, and there’s even a grower out in western Iowa who is growing what are called aronia berries — which are the new super fruit.” The grants range from $43,000 up to $250,000.
“These producers have to show us a plan for their business, they have to show us how they’ll use the money, they have to have feasibility built into it. It’s actually a pretty complicated process,” Menner says.
Here are the Iowa programs and the grants they won:
-Doe’s and Diva’s Dairy, Incorporated in Honey Creek – $43,520 in grant funds will be used as working capital to expand sales of goat cheeses and lotions
-Fireside Winery – Marengo – $43,650 in grant funds will help develop new markets and increase sales
-Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy in Hudson – $49,900 in grant funds will help the business improve their product packaging and expand their market area for dairy products
-Kathy’s Pumpkin Patch & Harvest in Donnellson – $120,000 in grant funds will help expand and improve the operating efficiency of this diversified produce business
-Lime Springs Beef in Lime Springs, Iowa – $250,000 in grant funds will be used to support a new beef processing facility in northern Iowa
-Penoach Winery and Nursery in Adel – $48,000 in grant funds will be used to assist the winery to expand markets and increase sales
-Sawmill Hollow in Missouri Valley – $250,000 in grant funds to help market an organic aronia berry product line in 15 key markets
-Wilson’s Orchard in Solon – $160,000 in grant funds will be used to help develop new markets and grow sales
-WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon – $250,000 in grant funds will be used as working capital to help increase production, packaging and marketing of ice cream and other dairy products