Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has announced $10 million in grants to establish agricultural innovation centers in 10 states, all in the Northeast and Midwest.

“The innovation centers will help farmers, ranchers and rural businesses develop and expand value-added ventures,” said Veneman. “These investments will create jobs and improve economic opportunities for rural families.”

The program was created by the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to provide technical and business development assistance to increase and improve the ability of agricultural producers to develop markets and processes for value-added agricultural commodities and products.

Veneman said the grant winners were selected on a competitive basis.

Those selected demonstrated a track record of achieving value-added successes, experienced personnel, developed a strong work plan, with an emphasis on utilizing non-federal funding and a commitment to measuring performance of the value-added activities.

They include:

  • Michigan State University, $999,860;
  • Montana State University, $1 million;
  • Cornell University, $993,200;
  • Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Minnesota, $1 million;
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, $1 million;
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, $996,935;
  • Rutgers University, $1 million;
  • Kansas Department of Commerce, $1 million;
  • Purdue University, $1 million;
  • North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, $1 million.

“These centers will give rural businesses, farmers and ranchers a new resource to help them create new markets for their commodities,” said Thomas C. Door, undersecretary of agriculture for rural development.

Since 2001, the federal government invested nearly $100 million toward expanding value-added ventures, including the establishing in 2001 of a $5 million agricultural marketing resource center. The center serves as an electronic resource center and clearinghouse for value-added related information. The center's Web site is http://www.agmrc.org/