Some $25 million in grants is available for the development of producer-owned processing businesses from USDA Rural Development.

The new Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants program is aimed at providing independent producers a means to process raw agricultural products into marketable goods. Twenty million dollars is to go to independent producer groups to establish value-added business ventures. The other $5 million is earmarked for a pilot project known as the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

Producer groups can use grant money to develop, enhance and market value-added products. The funds can’t be used for buying buildings or equipment. The maximum grant is $500,000.

Grant applications will be accepted in two rounds. The first round is due April 23. The second round is due June 27.

Deadline is April 30 for nonprofit firms and educational institutions to apply to start the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. The center will collect and disseminate information on value-added processing. It will also develop a strategy to establish a nationwide market information and coordination system.

For more information on these grant programs offered by USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service, contact the USDA Rural Development state offices or visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm.