August 06, 2013
Sikeston Farm Awarded Missouri Value-Added Grant
The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced that Heckemeyer Farms of Sikeston has been awarded $24,000 in grant funding to assist them in growing their sweet sorghum business. The funding comes from the Missouri Value-Added Grant Program, which provides grants for projects that advance the development of Missouri agricultural products while aiding the economy of a rural community.
"These grants do more than just help expand businesses, they provide Missouri producers with the tools to add value to their agricultural products and the rural communities which support them," said Director of Agriculture Dr. Jon Hagler. "Missouri's small agri-business owners have been invaluable in growing Missouri's agriculture economy and ensuring the continued success of Missouri agriculture."
The Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA) awarded the grant to partially fund technical assistance and a marketing plan for the farm to market a sweet sorghum product. In 2010, the Heckemeyer family purchased and relocated a commercial sweet sorghum mill from Louisiana, which has been reconstructed on the Heckemeyer farm. This mill has the capacity of processing 100 tons of sweet sorghum an hour into a sweet syrup the family hopes to market commercially both for table use and food service use.
Sweet sorghum is an annual crop which historically was prominent in the southern United States and was the primary source of sugar for southerners until replaced by large commercial sugar cane operations in Florida and Louisiana. When grown under optimal conditions, sweet sorghum stalks are high in sugar and can be crushed with the resulting juice reduced to a sweet syrup. The remaining stalks may be used as silage for livestock feed or as a fuel source.
This is one of 12 value-added grants awarded by MASBDA, for 2013. This year's grants ranged from $17,000 to $198,000, for a total of $808,838 awarded, all with the goal of fostering new enterprises that will aid rural economic development. Applications for the 2013 grants were due to MASBDA in December 2012.
The grants are funded from the sale of tax credits and can be used for business planning purposes, such as feasibility studies and marketing plans. The maximum individual grant is $200,000, with the applicant required to provide a 10 percent cash match toward the eligible expenses. Recipients must also provide quarterly reports to MASBDA throughout their grant period.