U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the award of 25 loans and grants totaling over $9.4 million to assist rural communities and businesses in 11 states.Some of the funded projects include a $450,000 loan to help construct and operate a farmer-owned 40 million gallon fuel grade ethanol plant in Dunn County, Wisconsin, providing 35 new jobs and a $740,000 loan will assist in constructing and equipping a processing and freezing facility in Mississippi that will create 245 new jobs. According to the Labor Department, the economy has created about 1.85 million jobs over the past 12 months. The funds are provided through the USDA Rural Development's Rural Economic Development loan and grant program. The program provides loans and grants to Rural Utilities Program borrowers. A complete list of the loan and grant recipients is available by going to: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/. Secretary Johanns has also announced plans to travel to Kazakhstan at the end of the month. He will lead a U.S. trade and investment mission and meet with top government officials. "Kazakhstan is a leader in Central Asia with the region's largest economy," said Johanns. " I'm pleased that there are 18 U.S. companies and agriculture associations that will be participating."
The Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov, Minister of Agriculture Akhmedzhan Yesimov, Minister of Trade and Industry Vladimir Shkolnick, and regional officials. Secretary Johanns will then travel to Almaty for further meetings with governmental and business officials, and to tour an agricultural production facility.The goal of the trip, according to the Department of Agriculture is to promote two-way trade and investment between the United States and Kazakhstan. The 18 participating U.S. companies and associations are interested in selling and buying agricultural products from Kazakhstan, the largest economy in Central Asia.
Participants will meet with agribusiness and government officials, and will visit the Rodina dairy, cattle and grain farm, and the Plem-Zavod Agricultural Production Facility for dairy, livestock and grain.