HELENA — The Montana Department of Agriculture and the Montana Agricultural Development Council are accepting Growth Through Agriculture grant and loan applications for projects that add value to Montana’s agricultural products and create jobs in Montana.
According to Dave Tyler, chairman of the Montana Agriculture Development Council, which oversees the GTA program, “The council is especially interested in receiving applications from businesses that process Montana’s grains, livestock and other agricultural commodities.”
“Adding value to the things that are grown and raised in Montana is a key factor in creating additional economic impact,” Tyler said. “Instead of shipping grain, meat and other commodities to another state for processing, it can be made into a product here in Montana, employing Montanans and creating additional profits circulating in our communities.”
Last year Western Meat and Sausage Block, a meat processor and retail establishment in Butte, Montana, applied for and received GTA funding. According to owner Chad Carpenter, “We’ve been able to keep more Montana livestock in the state, instead of it being sent out of state for processing like most Montana animals.”
The company, owned by Chad and his wife Christine, employs about 14 people with additional seasonal employees during hunting season.
In western Montana, GTA funding has helped purchase equipment that the Western Montana Growers Cooperative and the Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center use to meet fruit and vegetable needs of the University of Montana and many area schools.
According to Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center Director Jan Tusick, “Last season the center processed over 25,000 pounds of locally produced vegetables for area schools. This season the center and its partners, which include the Western Montana Growers Cooperative, are projecting a 30 percent increase in processed products.”
Grant and loan applications are judged on a competitive basis. Information about the Growth Through Agriculture program and application requirements are available online by following the link on the right from the department’s homepage at http://agr.mt.gov/. Application deadlines are September 16, 2013 and January 31, 2014.
The Agriculture Development Council, which consists of representatives from agriculture and government, reviews and selects successful applicants for GTA grants and loans twice a year. For more information, visit the website or contact Angie Nelson at 406-444-2402 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.