By KEVIN WALKER
LANSING, Mich. — State officials have announced they are accepting proposals for a competitive grant aimed at helping promote and enhance Michigan’s food and agriculture industry.
The Value-Added Grant Program, a state-funded effort separate from similar federal programs, is intended to help expand value-added agricultural processing and food hub development in Michigan and improve access to locally grown foods.
The program will award a maximum of $125,000 per project and each project will require a minimum 30 percent match. The proposals will be evaluated through a competitive process. Applicants will be asked to describe how the project will impact and produce measurable outcomes for the state’s food and agriculture industry.
Last year, eight projects received awards, out of a total of 51 applicants. The winners received funds for their projects totaling $2.4 million. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) administers the program.
“The awarded proposals reflect the opportunities within Michigan’s diverse food and agriculture industry to expand value-added food processing, food hub development and increase access to fresh and nutritious Michigan foods,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams. “These projects illustrate the critical role the food and agriculture sector plays in our state, while strengthening Michigan’s impact in the global marketplace.”
The eight winners last year included Arbre Farms Corp. of Walkerville, which received $210,000 to expand production to include year-round manufacturing by adding a new locally-grown potato processing line. The company was planning to hire more people locally.
“Arbre Farms is honored to be a part of the 2016 grant program, which will help us to continue our innovative production strategies and build on our beneficial relationships with Michigan farmers,” said President Dylan Marks. “We are excited about these new opportunities for economic growth and further development in partnership with the Michigan agricultural community in Oceana County and across the state.”
Other grant recipients last year were Fair Food Network of Ann Arbor, which won $249,000 to expand its Double Up Food Bucks program, a Michigan statewide healthy food incentive initiative, in Flint to help families purchase more fruits and vegetables while supporting Michigan farmers.
Foremost Farms, of Baraboo, Wis., received $210,000 to conduct a feasibility assessment of potential site requirements for a dairy processing facility in Michigan.
Michigan State University and Michigan Brewers Guild of Chatham were granted $29,300 to conduct a supply chain and economic impact analysis of the state’s craft beer industry, focusing on the potential for use of local ingredients by Michigan breweries. The focus was on the feasibility of sourcing locally grown hops and barley.
The remaining awardees were Seeds and Spores Family Farm of Marquette, for $53,400; Shoreline Fruit, LLC of Traverse City, for $210,000; Winery at Black Star Farms of Suttons Bay, for $210,000; and Wolverine Human Services of Detroit, for $155,000.
Proposals for this year’s round must be received via email at email@example.com no later than 3 p.m. on Nov. 7. Proposals received after that time will not be considered. Any additional communications regarding the request for proposal should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on MDARD’s grant programs, including an application and other information regarding this grant, go online to www.michigan.gov/mdardgrants