This marks the third year of such funding through the 2002 farm bill.

"This is a terrific opportunity for Georgia agricultural producers," says J. Craig Scroggs, cooperative development specialist for USDA-Rural Development. "We encourage people to apply."

Eligible entities include independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.

Grants are awarded in one of two categories - planning or working capital. Planning grants can be used to fund feasibility studies or business plans needed to establish a viable value-added business venture or an alliance that will allow producers to better compete in domestic and international markets. Applications must be for one of these purposes but can’t be for both.

Full details about this program can be accessed via the Internet at: http://frwebgate4.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate.cgi?WAISdocID=03550314....

Georgia had four projects funded in 2002 under this new program, totaling $315,350. Projects funded included:

o Concordia, LLC, Asburn, Ga. — $15,000 — To determine the feasibility of collectively marketing peanuts by cleaning, grading and segregating the peanuts according to variety and grade.

o Jacob W. Paulk Farms, Inc., Wray, Ga. — $126,350 — To establish a working capital account to fund the development of processes to enhance the value of muscadines into anti-oxidant powders and a healthy, good-tasting juice.

o Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Pecans, Atlanta, Ga. — $25,000 — To conduct marketing research to determine the feasibility of establishing a branded "Georgia Grown" pecan.

o Farmers Oilseed Cooperative, Inc., Tifton, Ga. — $149,000 — To develop a detailed business and marketing plan for the oilseeds processed in their crushing/refining facility.

To see other projects funded under this initiative last year, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rd/newsroom/2002/value_ad.htm.

e-mail: phollis@primediabusiness.com