Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced Tuesday that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is once again offering Choose Iowa value-added grants to expand the availability of Iowa grown, Iowa raised and Iowa made foods, beverages, and other agricultural products. Choose Iowa grants match up to $25,000 per project to help farmers, businesses, and non-profits increase or diversify their agricultural product offerings, which provide more local food choices to consumers.
“Choose Iowa grants provide assistance to farmers, small businesses, and non-profits to make investments that will help them add value, diversify their product offerings, tap into new markets and connect directly with more customers,” said Secretary Naig. “By building on the growing demand for local foods and investing in value-added projects, Choose Iowa is all about connecting consumers to the very best that Iowa can produce.”
Applicants can use Choose Iowa grant funding to add new processing, packaging or sales techniques that add value to the crops, livestock, and other products that they produce. For example, a farmer may invest in an on-farm store or cold storage to sell meat, eggs or produce direct to consumers, or a produce grower may upgrade their commercial kitchen to process larger quantities of seasonal produce at the peak of freshness. Grant funding can also be used for employee training and continuing education programs. Meat processing and dairy processing projects are not eligible for Choose Iowa grants as separate dedicated grant funding programs are available for both. More information about Butchery Innovation and Revitalization Program and Dairy Innovation Fund opportunities are available on the Choose Iowa website.
In its first two years, the Choose Iowa grant program received hundreds of applications totaling nearly $3.3 million in requests. Thirteen awardees were selected in 2022 including dairy farms, direct-to-consumer meat businesses, a food hub, a CSA, and a brewery, among others. Twenty-eight recipients were awarded in 2023 for projects ranging from increasing cold storage, to expanding processing proficiency and distribution capabilities, to improving production capacity and efficiency.
Individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations that are currently living or operating in Iowa may apply for the Choose Iowa value-added grants. Preference will be given to small to medium-sized businesses. Details about the grant program, including financial matching requirements, application, and eligibility, are available on the Choose Iowa website.
Applications should be submitted through the online portal on the Choose Iowa website and are due by 12:00 p.m. on December 15, 2023. Grant recipients will be announced in March 2024. Questions about the Choose Iowa value-added grants can be directed to [email protected].