Nine Iowa businesses have won rural development grants from the U-S-D-A worth more than one-point-two million dollars. Among them, is Sawmill Hollow, in Missouri Valley, which received $250,000 in grant funds to help market an organic aronia berry product line in 15 key markets.
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-thousand up to 250-thousand dollars.
“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.
Also included among the grant recipients, was Penoach Winery and Nursery in Adel, which received $48,000 in grant funds will be used to assist the winery to expand markets and increase sales.