The USDA Rural Development program is accepting applications for grants to help farmers, ranchers and producer-based businesses develop new products and expand marketing opportunities.

Rural Development is making approximately $37 million in grants available nationwide under the Value Added Producers grant program. The grants can be used to develop new products from raw agricultural products, to develop additional uses for already developed product lines or to market value-added agricultural products.

Independent producers, agricultural operators, farmer or rancher cooperatives and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives.

Electronic applications must be submitted to by 10 p.m. MST on March 5. Paper applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. MST on March 10. In Montana, applications should be submitted to the local USDA Rural Development office.