By TIM HEARDEN
GERBER, Calif. - More than $2.7 million in federal funds has been handed to 15 West Coast farms as part of the USDA's Value Added Producer Grant program.
Of those, seven grants worth $1.5 million were given to farms in California.
The competitive grant program aims to eliminate key barriers in small-business development by providing working capital or money to develop business plans and feasibility studies for new ventures, explains the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, an advocacy group.
Among the recipients is Pacific Farms and Orchards here, which will devote its $100,000 grant to exploring uses of the waste stream from its olive oil operation, general manager Brendon Flynn said.
"It's an opportunity to be able to utilize some of the grant funds that are available to bring some new products to market that will benefit our operation and the greater olive oil industry as well," Flynn said.
The Golden State's other recipients were Challenge Dairy Products in Dublin ($300,000), Valley Fig Growers in Fresno ($150,000), Nishimori Family Farms in Oxnard ($300,000), San Miguel Produce, Inc., in Oxnard ($300,000), Frank Konyn Dairy in Escondido ($50,000), and Parrott Investment Co., Inc., in Chico ($300,000).
In Washington, grant winners were Seattle Wholesale Growers Market Cooperative ($200,000), Spring Rain Farm and Orchard in Chimacum ($35,677), Twin Brook Creamery in Lynden ($276,273), and Alpenfire Orchards in Port Townsend ($49,900).
Oregon's recipients included Minto Island Growers in Salem ($12,893), Imperial Stock Ranch in Shaniko ($300,000), and Thompson Creek Organics in Jacksonville ($48,515).
Three Horse Ranch Vineyards in Eagle, Idaho received $300,000.
The term "value-added" refers to a process in which an agricultural commodity was changed or was produced and marketed in a way that enhances its value, NSAC explains.
For example, 15 dairies in 12 states were given grants for producing or doing feasibillity studies for artisanal and specialty cheeses made on-farm. Eight awards nationwide went to organic products, including to a tribe in Wisconsin growing organic white corn.
USDA Value-Added Producer Grants: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition: http://sustainableagriculture.net/