(NAFB)--USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says these grants will jump start small business hiring and help producers in areas facing economic challenges get the tools they need to succeed. The funding is available through USDA Rural Development’s Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program. The maximum grant award is 200-thousand dollars.
According to USDA - this grant program and other business and cooperative development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. They helped almost 10-thousand rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises in 2012. Also in 2012 - USDA reports business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53-thousand rural jobs.
Eligible applicants include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives and cooperative development centers where a majority of the governing board or board of directors is comprised of individuals who are members of socially disadvantaged groups. Small, socially disadvantaged producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and fishermen that have averaged 250-thousand dollars or less in annual gross sales of agricultural products in the last three years. Producers will be able to conduct market research, product and/or service improvement, feasibility studies, training and implement business plans. Electronic applications must be submitted by July 10th. The deadline for paper applications is July 15th. Additional information is available at www dot rurdev dot usda dot gov slash BCP underscore SSDPG dot html (www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SSDPG.html).