June 24, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] Bioenergy is a growing field, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to offer US$13.2 million in grants to agricultural businesses that dedicate some of their development to bioenergy. USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman said priority consideration will be given to those grant applications that have at least 51 percent of project costs dedicated to planning activities for a bio-energy project. According to the USDA the Bush administration has funded $15 million in value-added development centers, and over $85 million in value-added grants, including nearly 70 energy projects. Grants are available to independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled, producer-based business ventures. Companies interested in a competitively-awarded grant to fund either a study of marketing opportunities for an agricultural product, or acquire working capital to operate a business venture that will allow producers to better compete in domestic and international markets are encouraged to apply.