U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced that nearly $1.5 million in grant funds is now available to eligible cooperatives and associations of cooperatives to help small, minority producers develop business plans, conduct feasibility studies or create marketing plans.
"These funds are part of the USDA's efforts to assist small or minority producers to establish successful farming operations," said Johanns. "By partnering with minority cooperatives to provide technical assistance to these producers, we can help foster additional job and economic opportunities in rural America."
Under the Small Minority Producer Grant program, $1,473,000 in grant funds is available to minority cooperatives or minority associations of cooperatives whose governing board and/or membership is comprised of at least 75-percent minority members. The funding will be used to assist eligible small, minority producers including farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and commercial fishermen.
Applications must be postmarked and mailed no later than July 28, 2006, to be eligible for FY 2006 grant funding. Full details are available in the June 13 Federal Register. Application guides and materials are available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/smpg/smpg.htm  or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.