WisBusiness: Agriculture secretary announces $227K in local food grants

By Gregg Hoffmann

For WisBusiness.com

VIROQUA – Nine recipients of state “Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin” grants were announced Tuesday by state Secretary of Agriculture Rod Nilsestuen.

Nilsestuen made the announcements while participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Premier Meats, a new meat processing plant outside Viroqua.

“No one turns out better produce, dairy, meat and other foods than our Wisconsin producers,” Nilsestuen said. “We’re here today to support local efforts to keep high quality local food in Wisconsin communities. The local food movement has come a long way and is coming on.

“You’re providing top quality, fresh food-to-families, supporting farmers and growing your own economy and the state economy.”

The Western Wisconsin Local Foods Initiative was the recipient of $40,000, the largest grant, to provide coordination through a multi-stakeholder cooperative used by producers, processors and institutions in western Wisconsin.

The initiative will increase capacity to access markets by establishing infrastructure to overcome hurdles currently faced by local food producers in areas of production, processing, marketing and distribution. A former NCR plant in Viroqua will be converted to a processing and distribution center for several organic producers and others.

Participating counties include Vernon, Crawford, Richland, Monroe and La Crosse. The program is coordinated by the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA).

Premier Meats opened in December and is part of the program. The new 12,000 square foot plant employs 20 fulltime and part-time workers. It can process 150 head od beef monthly and includes a retail shop.

Owners Dan and Sue Jacobson and Terry Hoyum joined Nilsestuen and VEDA executive director Sue Noble in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and announcement of the local food grants.

Other recipients include the Dane County Institutional Food Market Coalition, $35,000; the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, $35,000; In-House Artisan Meats of Madison, $25,000; Green and Green Distribution of Mineral Point, $22,700; UW System for the WI Apple Distribution to schools, $20,000; Pasture Perfect LLC of Ashland, $16,000; Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program of Dodgeville, $15,000; and Bayfield Apple Company of Bayfield, $14,000.

See details on the grants: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=182506