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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2001

Ryan Enacts Agrifirst

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed into law a first-ever program to provide grants and technical assistance to value-added agriculture projects.

The $3 million AgriFIRST program will provide funding for feasibility studies, marketing plans, business plans and technical assistance to farmer-owned coops, producer owned processing facilities and other ventures that add value to the crops and livestock raised in Illinois.

"Illinois AgriFIRST is a much needed shot in the arm for the number one industry in our state," Ryan said. "I now encourage producers across Illinois to take up the challenge of AgriFIRST: to dream up new uses for our agricultural products and new ways to work together to enhance the value farmers receive for the crops and animals they produce."

Initially, AgriFIRST will provide two grant programs. Technical assistance grants for new or expanding agribusinesses will be awarded for up to 75 percent of the project for a maximum of $25,000. Feasibility studies will be funded up to 50 percent of the cost of the study. Application for AgriFIRST funding is open to any project that will result in the enhancement of value-added agricultural products.

"AgriFIRST is a historic step for Illinois Agriculture," said Illinois Agriculture Director Joe Hampton. "This seed money will greatly expand the demand for Illinois agricultural products and will ensure that Illinois keeps its competitive edge in providing quality food products to our neighbors and around the world."

The AgriFIRST grant program will be administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Groups or individuals wanting specific information about the AgriFIRST program can contact the Department of Agriculture at 1-866-IL-AGRI-1 (1-866-452-4741.)


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