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Michigan’s value-added grant program is accepting pitches
By KEVIN WALKER
Michigan Correspondent

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the Julian-Stille Value-Added Agricultural Develop-ment Fund, a program that provides money to individuals and groups to infuse Michigan’s agricultural industry with new energy and ideas.

Eligible applicants include individuals, farmer-owned cooperatives, partnerships, limited liability companies, private or public corporations and local governments.

“I’m expecting a pretty broad base of proposals,” said Michael DiBernardo, economic development specialist at the MDA.

In order to help applicants with their proposals, the state will host workshops across the state May 25-June 5, and additional workshops may be held. Attendance at these workshops is not required, however.

“These are really workshops for applicants to give them guidance, to answer their questions,” DiBernardo said.

Grant proposals, which must be received by 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, will be rated using a scoring system. Among the criteria used for scoring will be the clarity of the project proposal and whether there are specific, measurable outcomes.

Grant money will be awarded to applicants in five categories: these include facility/land purchase and development, technical assistance, facility improvements, market research and business plans.

The facility/land purchase and development category encompasses property acquisition and assembly, demolition and site development.

The technical assistance category could include an innovative technology designed to enhance and support the commercialization of value-added products, or a feasibility study with similar goals.

Facility improvements could include upgrades and enhancements to buildings, equipment, modifications to utilities and other improvements.

A market research proposal could include a development project prepared by an industry consultant, for example.

A proposal under the business plan category should include a specific marketing strategy and an outline of working capital and financial needs, management structure, construction, production and distribution needs.

The grant amounts for the categories vary widely, from a $25,000 limit under the business plan category to as high as $350,000 under the facility/land purchase and development category.

Workshops for program applicants have been scheduled for the following dates and locations:

•May 25 - Saginaw, Mich.
Session 1: 9-11 a.m.
Session 2: 1-3 p.m.
Michigan Department of Agriculture
1585 Tittabawassee Road

•May 30 - Escanaba, Mich.
10 a.m.-noon
Bay de Noc Community College
Joseph Hierman Center, Room 952
2001 N. Lincoln Road

•May 31 - Zeeland, Mich.
10 a.m.-noon
Zeeland Community Center
2nd Floor 14 S. Church St.

•June 1 - Milan, Mich.
7-8:30 p.m.
York Township Hall
11560 Stony Creek Road

•June 5 - Lansing, Mich.
Session 1: 9-11 a.m.
Session 2: 1-3 p.m.
Radisson Hotel, Michigan Rooms 1-2
111 N. Grand Ave.

Additional workshops may be scheduled as needed. For more detailed grant proposal information, such as instructions, format requirements and scoring system, visit www.michigan.gov/mda or call 517-241-2178.

Proposals must be received, not postmarked, by July 13. Proposals should be sent to: MDA-Agriculture Development Division, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909.

This farm news was published in the May 24, 2006 issue of Farm World.

5/24/2006