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Grants available for ag processing

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the agricultural growth, research and innovation value-added grant program, according to a press release. The MDA anticipates awarding approximately $1 million to for-profit businesses, agricultural cooperatives and local governments for equipment purchases that help increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products — including efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the murder of George Floyd, the release stated.

Investments in equipment that boost production capacity, market diversification, and market access for value-added products will be considered with an emphasis in four priority areas:

• Creating additional meat/poultry processing capacity

• Increasing food safety to improve marketability

• Responding to changing market conditions as a result of COVID-19 (e.g. increasing capacity for household-sized packaging rather than wholesale packaging)

• Responding to civil unrest, primarily in the Twin Cities (e.g. rebuilding facilities damaged or destroyed, increasing processing capacity in affected areas)

Grant funds reimburse up to 25% of the total project cost. The maximum equipment award is $150,000, and the minimum award is $1,000. Grant details, including eligibility, are explained in the request for proposals.

Applications must be received no later than Oct. 29 in order to be considered for funding. Decisions are expected mid-December.

It is preferred that applicants submit proposals through the online application system. Full grant details are available at the AGRI value-added grant website. Funding for the grants was established through the AGRI program to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.