USDA gives grants worth $950K to several county projects

The office of Rep. Dennis Cardoza said he expressed his appreciation for the USDA’s support of rural grant funding and a visit to the region by USDA Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs Judith Canales.

Canales toured Merced County and the Valley today to discuss several projects being supported through USDA grants. In all, the Valley will benefit from nearly $950,000, according to a news release.

“These grants mark another step toward continued economic recovery and I am pleased that administrator Canales visited our region to see firsthand some of the most productive farms and rural-development projects in our nation,” said Cardoza.

The Merced Economic Development Corporation received $198,194 through a Rural Business Enterprise Grant program. It will provide technical assistance, planning and counseling services to new and emerging businesses, cities and unincorporated communities in Merced County.

The funds can be used for start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs. More information about this program is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_rbeg.html.

A $500,000 Rural Energy for America grant will be used by the Gallo Cattle Co. in Atwater to install an anaerobic digester and power unit to capture and convert biogas into electrical power and heat for use by the Joseph Gallo Cheese plant.

Central Sierra Resource Conservation & Development Inc, received $250,000 through a federal Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) that will help benefit Merced County with the development of a regional food systems, marketing, biomass utilization and alternative energy.