Applications sought for conservation grant

TRAVERSE CITY — The USDA offers financial assistance to farmland protection organizations through its Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Farmland protection organizations purchase development rights or easements on agricultural land to prevent it from being diverted to non-agricultural use. Organizations can receive up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing easements from landowners through the ACEP.

Agricultural land easement organizations must submit an application by April 15 to be considered for funding. State, tribal, local governments and non-government organizations that have established farmland protection programs and the ability to monitor, manage and enforce easements are eligible.

Learn more at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.

Cherry Committee appointments

TRAVERSE CITY — Lake Leelanau farmer Benjamin LaCross was appointed to the Michigan Cherry Committee on March 11.

LaCross, owner of North Shore Orchards, is vice president of the Leelanau Horticulture Society, a member of the Michigan Association of Cherry Producers and serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Kewadin farmer Brian Altonen was re-appointed to the committee. Altonen is co-owner of Altonen Orchards.

Benton Harbor farmer Mark Schilling also was appointed to the committee.

Grants for rural businesses

TRAVERSE CITY — The USDA has $25 million available in loan guarantees for eligible Michigan businesses.

The Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program can help with business development, improvement and growth to save and create jobs in Michigan communities. Any legally organized business entities and individual business owners in communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer are eligible.

Contact the Business Programs Division at (517) 324-5157 or email traci.smith@mi.usda.gov for more information and to receive application material. Visit rd.usda.gov/mi for more information.

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