Sunday, December 5, 2021

State ARPA Commission Recommends $7.5 Million to Boost Value-Added Agriculture

by Colter Brown
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Helena, Mont. – The Economic Transformation, Stabilization and Workforce Development Advisory Commission voted unanimously to recommend using $7.5 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to strengthen and diversify Montana’s agricultural industry through targeted investments in value-added agriculture projects during its meeting on October 27th.

The Montana Department of Agriculture proposed the Value-Added Agriculture Investment Program to increase value-added food and agriculture business capacity in Montana with special emphasis on increased processing and manufacturing of raw ag commodities. The proposal received strong support from several agriculture industry groups and economic development organization representatives.

“The Value-Added Ag Investment Program will move the needle on Montana Agriculture through new, innovative, and expanded processing and manufacturing of the premium raw ag commodities that Montana is known for,” said Zach Coccoli, Acting Agriculture Development Division Administrator for Montana Department of Agriculture. “These investments will allow our producers to capture more value for their high-quality products and ensure Agriculture remains the backbone of Montana’s economy for generations to come.”

The commission’s recommendation has been sent to Governor Greg Gianforte for final approval and the department is preparing to call for proposals next week, with the deadline to submit planned for December 9th. Beginning on the 17th, selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals until February 28th. Recommendations will be provided to the commission on March 22nd.

Funding will be made available in three different types of matching grants, depending on the size of the project. Proposals for $150,000 and under will receive a 1 to 1 match. $150,000-$300,000 project proposals will be matched 2 to 1. A 3 to 1 match will be available for grants between $300,000 and $450,000.

Projects should primarily add value to Montana’s agricultural products, have prospects for achieving commercial success given the current personnel, experience and resources of the applicant and have the possibility to create and/or retain jobs in Montana.

A cash match is required for all proposals. In-Kind matching will not be allowed. Examples of project activities may include: Business expansion or relocation, equipment purchases, consultant services contributing to project completion, such as engineering costs.

Proposals may be submitted from individuals, businesses and industry organizations, public and private agencies, educational institutions and local governments.

A copy of the Value Added Agriculture Investment Program is available here. More information will be available soon at arpa.mt.gov.

 

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MT Dept. of Agriculture

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