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Missouri producers and agribusinesses interested in developing or expanding their value-added agriculture operations can now apply for grants through the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA). The Value-Added Agriculture Grant Program is currently accepting applications for funding to assist farmers with business planning expenses for projects that develop, process or market agricultural goods.

Earlier this year, MDA and MASBDA awarded more than $370,000 in grants to assist producers and agribusinesses exploring and expanding value-added agriculture.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and applications will be scored based on their economic development potential for the agriculture industry, credibility and merit, probability of near-term commercialization and practical application of project results, source and level of matching funds and the geographic location of the project's economic impact.

Past projects have included feasibility studies for native nut production, local dairy processing and waste management. Projects funded in previous years have also included business plans and marketing plans for locally produced pork and poultry products, biomass pellets, wind energy and specialty grains.

The maximum individual grant is $200,000, with a portion of the available funding designated for grant requests of $25,000 or less. Applicants are required to provide a 10 percent cash match toward eligible expenses, which do not include operating expenses, salaries or capital improvements.

These grants are funded by contributions made to MASBDA through the purchase of tax credits. Donors receive up to 100 percent of their contribution in tax credits. Grant applicants are responsible for securing commitments to buy the tax credits. Tax credit applications amounting to at least 50 percent of the grant request must be submitted with the grant applications.

Applications must be received by MASBDA no later than 5:00 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. For more information on the program and complete guidelines, visit the Department online at mda.mo.gov or contact MASBDA at masbda@mda.mo.gov or (573) 751-2129.
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