Kind presents U.S.D.A. grant to local orchard

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- If you grow strawberries and turn them into jam, that's called a value-added product and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to help small, rural businesses create more of them through special grants.

The U.S.D.A. announced Thursday it is doling out $45 million of these grants to ag producers and rural businesses – with a tasty one being handed out in Eau Claire County on Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind stopped at Leffel Roots Orchard just south of Eau Claire to announce a $22,500 grant for them to develop a new bakery and eventually create ciders and ales from the apples Jim and Laura Leffel grow on their 40-acre orchard.

Kind says this is the type of assistance which can help small businesses get off the ground.

"This is what makes America great,” he said. “It's the idea that we're all in this together. We ought to be stronger together, pitching in together, helping each other especially in rural communities throughout Wisconsin and the rest of the nation. That's the only way that it can work."

In all, 23 ag producers in Wisconsin - like the Leffels – will receive more than $3.7 million thanks to these U.S.D.A. grants.

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