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MDA Will Start Accepting Applications for AGRI Value Added Grants in July

Contributed by Julie LaClair, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to issue another round of Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Value Added Grants. Grants are intended to help agricultural producers and processors increase sales of their products by expanding markets. The grants are for equipment purchases or physical improvements. Projects that improve a business’s ability to sell to schools will receive priority in the evaluation process.

MDA will start accepting applications for the next round of grants in July, with applications due in September. Up to $1 million will be available, with a minimum award of $1,000 and a maximum of $200,000; 25 percent of expenses may be covered by grant funding.

Many value-added businesses have used these grants to increase the marketability of their products to schools. Here are some examples of previously funded projects with a farm-to-school component:
  • Brandt Gardens and Greenhouse, LLC purchased a walk-in cooler and freezer, as well as a scale, to increase food safety and ability to sell to nearby schools.
  • Bongards Creameries was awarded funding to construct a refrigerated warehouse to increase cheese production for the USDA Foods Program.
  • Mixmi Brands, Inc. received funding to purchase and install equipment and refrigeration to increase their capacity to serve “smart snacks” that meet USDA nutrition standards to their school and retail markets.
Please share information about this grant program with your Farm to School partners. To learn more about the program, visit the AGRI Value Added Grant web page. The page will be updated as more details are available.

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