If you’ve been thinking about developing a value-added product, don’t forget to check out the grants available as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. The “Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants” are available to help get value-added projects off the ground.

Jeff Jobe, with USDA’s Rural Business/Cooperative Service, says there are three questions you should ask to determine if your project is eligible for a grant.

1. Are the funds being used for an eligible purpose? Planning and working capital are the most common eligible uses.

2. Are you eligible? Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups or commodity organizations, and majority-owned producer-based businesses are all eligible.

3. Does your project change the physical state of the product or enhance its value? Is the product used to produce renewable energy on a farm or ranch?

Limited funds are available, and competitive scoring will be used to judge all applications. Electronic submission of applications is encouraged. For more information, contact your state Rural Development Office, or visit this Web site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm