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Program Fact Sheet   Application    Grant Recipients    Rules   Statute   Anouncements

For program information including eligibility and matching funds requirements please refer to the Program Fact Sheet.

About AgriFIRST

AgriFIRST is the direct result of grassroots input generated from regional Ag Assembly meetings held in 2000. Those meetings brought together leaders in the agriculture community to address the challenges facing Illinois agriculture. Ag Assembly participants recommended the creation of a grant program to provide monies for feasibility studies and technical assistance for value-added projects that raise farmers' share of profits from the processing of raw commodities. AgriFIRST was created in 2001 and demonstrates the Department's commitment to the agriculture and food industry.

The AgriFIRST grant program is part of the Opportunity Returns program for economic development and is designed to assist farmers in creating new value-added businesses to help strengthen Illinois' rural economy. Opportunity Returns is a comprehensive plan for restoring economic opportunity to Illinois - an approach that can bring jobs and growth back to our communities.

Adding Value To Illinois Agriculture

Adding value to Illinois agriculture means translating new ideas and scientific discoveries into new products and services that create jobs and economic opportunity. The winners are farm families, rural and urban communities, cooperatives, food and agribusinesses, the state's economy and, most importantly, the consumer.

image of a factory By adding value to Illinois agriculture, we can turn raw commodities into new products; develop a closer relationship between farmers and consumers that propel new products into the marketplace; form alliances between producers and agribusiness; encourage business ventures that enhance income potential for individual producers while meeting consumer needs; or develop ways to capitalize on new markets for crops and livestock.

Individuals, cooperatives, alliances, partnerships, joint ventures... any individual or group may apply for AgriFIRST funds.

In Illinois, we are very lucky to have a food and fiber system that is uniquely suited to meet American and foreign consumer demand for healthy, good tasting, convenient, inexpensive foods.

  • The state's food and fiber industry employs nearly 1.5 million people -- more than 24% of Illinois' employment

  • 25% of Illinois' exports come from the food & agriculture sector

  • Illinois ranks among the top five states in agricultural output

  • Illinois is the center of US corn and soybean production

  • Illinois ranks fourth in hog production

  • Illinois farmers are increasingly raising fruits & vegetables to supply growing urban demand

This position brings with it a tremendous opportunity to position our industry - family farms, food processors and manufacturers - as a pillar in the global food economy. Simply put, we in Illinois are uniquely suited to add value to our agriculture production.

For additional information on the AgriFIRST value added grant program, please call the Office of AgriFIRST at 866-452-4741 or e-mail Delayne Reeves at

Questions or comments.

Copyright © 2001
State of Illinois Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 19281, State Fairgrounds
Springfield, IL 62794-9281
(217) 782-2172
(217) 524-6858 TTY