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Grant options outlined

June 08, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., held a workshop Monday to encourage Western Maryland farmers and small-business owners to apply for millions of dollars in grants available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We're on a mission to reach rural folk who can't obtain credit," said James E. Waters, USDA business programs director for Maryland and Delaware.

Waters was among a panel of experts and a few potential applicants who gathered Monday morning in Maugansville to discuss a variety of grants.

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Applications are being accepted for the Value Added Producer Grant and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program, also known as Farm Bill Section 9006.

The deadline to submit energy grant applications is July 19. The Value Added Producer Grant deadline will be sometime in August. Grant applications can be obtained at the USDA Web site, www.rurdev.usda.gov, or by calling the USDA Maryland Delaware Rural Development office at 1-302-697-4324.

The Web site also provides a list of applicants awarded grants in the last three years, a USDA representative said.

"Both programs are funded at the same level, about $25 million dollars," Waters said.

He said the USDA approved 114 renewable energy and efficiency projects nationwide last year, but so far no Maryland applicants have been approved.

That program is in its second year.

"We're traveling and presenting throughout the state to encourage participation," Waters said.

Money from the Value Added Producer Grant allows farmers and ranchers to expand their businesses with specific emphasis on new and emerging agricultural markets.

In 2002, Maryland-based companies received a total of $759,930 in Value Added Producer Grant funds. None was from Washington County.

Renewable Energy grants provide financial assistance to eligible farmers, ranchers and small businesses interested in launching projects that produce alternative forms of inexpensive energy.

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