Governor Steve Bullock and the Agriculture Development Council announced the recipients of $290,500 in grants and $121,500 in loans to agricultural businesses and organizations. A total of 12 businesses and organizations were awarded funds through the Growth Through Agriculture program (GTA) which was established by the legislature to strengthen and diversify Montana’s agricultural industry by developing new agricultural products and processes.
“These grants and loans will help grow and expand agricultural businesses and organizations across our state in conjunction with the Main Street Montana Project’s directive to expand access to local foods and foster growth in the state’s agricultural sector. It’s exciting to see the innovation and business development that is adding value to agriculture,” said Governor Steve Bullock.
The Growth Through Agriculture program grants and loans are awarded by the Agriculture Development Council, a seven member committee appointed by the Governor.
One project will use locally grown Montana potatoes that may be deemed too ‘ugly’ for retail sale and would otherwise be composted to distill vodka and gin. Dry Hills Distillery, located in Bozeman, was granted $48,000 to purchase a potato peeler and dicer equipment to help automate the preparation process before distillation. The company expects to open a tasting room and distillery soon.
“We had over $1 million dollars in financial requests again this cycle – a testament to the interest in the program and the growth in Montana’s food and agriculture sector. The Council was able to fund some very exciting projects that ranged from small poultry processing in the Bitterroot Valley to a newbrewery in Glendive,” said Agriculture Development Council Chair Amy Kellogg.
Schuldt Services will be using their $20,000 grant for a mobile sheep shearing trailer based out of Miles City. The grant will help purchase a gooseneck trailer and the materials to construct a modern shearing trailer and a hydraulic wool press for the sheep shearing operation.
The next application deadline for Growth Through Agriculture funding is Friday, January 29, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. The Council strongly encourages applicants to contact their local Food and Agriculture Development Centers and economic development organizations for assistance prior to submitting their application. More information is available onthe program’s website.