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Kodiak Area Cattle Ranch Receives USDA Grant

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding To Assist Agricultural Producers and Cooperatives Across the Country
Alaska Cattle Producer to Receive Almost $132,000 to Add Value to Grass Fed Beef

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2010 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today during the National Summit of Rural America that USDA has selected recipients in 45 states, including Alaska and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico to receive business development assistance and pursue marketing opportunities for agricultural commodities. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development assistance under the Value-Added Producer Grant program, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.

"As part of the Obama administration's work to turn the economy around, USDA is acting as an important catalyst for business development and job creation in rural America," Vilsack said.  "These grants will improve financial returns and help create jobs for agricultural producers, businesses and families across the Nation. USDA is investing in farmers, ranchers and cooperatives to strengthen the economic foundation of rural America."

The owners of the Sitkinak Cattle Ranch near Kodiak, Alaska will receive a $131,749 USDA Rural Development Value Added Producer Grant to provide working capital to eliminate cold storage and increase the value of their meat products.

Sitkinak Cattle Ranch is a family owned operation located on Sitkinak Island. After years of raising their free-range, grass fed, hormone and steroid free cattle on the island to process as frozen meat, the ranch will now produce a product line of value- added shelf stable beef products in its USDA inspected and approved multi-location abattoir facility.

The USDA grant will be used to create higher value meat products such as fully cooked steaks, stew meat, summer sausage, and snack sticks. The value added processing and packaging method will solve the problems remote livestock producers have of getting their product to market. Meat will be processed into retort pouches, steam cooked and sealed into foil pouches which provides a long shelf life and removes the need for refrigeration.

This project will create a minimum of 10 new sustainable jobs in addition to the positions held by the ranch owners. This beef cattle operation plans to process their own livestock on the ranch and deliver fully cooked shelf stable beef products to local, state-wide and national markets.

The Value-Added Producer Grants announced today total more than $22.5 million nationwide.  Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.

The Rural Summit is an opportunity for rural Americans to share their vision and ideas for creating a more prosperous and more promising future for rural America. Farmers, ranchers, and foresters from around the country, as well as policymakers from all levels of government and community leaders are discussing the key priorities and policies necessary to get rural America growing again.           

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $138 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

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