Pacific business leaders learned that a wide range of federal loans and grants are available to help the city boost its economy.

Greg Batson, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program support director, outlined details of available funds at the Pacific Area Chamber of Commerce meeting Sept. 28.

The program, titled “Investing in Rural America,” is designed to develop stronger communities and economies.

Even though this is an agriculture department program, the funding is not focused on cows and crops, Batson said, but on cities located in the rural, agricultural sections of the United States.

Some crops do come into play for cities who tap into the value-added program, he said, that helps develop plants to turn grapes into wine, blackberries into jelly and tomatoes into salsa.

The USDA Rural Development programs provide loans for business and industry, utilities and businesses that boost rural economic development.

Loans and grants are available for water and wastewater programs and community facilities. Grants are available for rural energy, rural business development and value added produce production.

The program has even helped 14 very-low income homeowners in Missouri make repairs to their existing homes through grants to action agencies in their counties.

Nationally, the USDA spent $892 million on rural development last year.

Batson offered more than 100 examples of grants and loans the USDA has made to aid the rural Missouri economy in 2016 ranging from $3,000 to $10 million.

In Missouri, the programs have helped build biodiesel plants, car washes, veterinary hospitals, grain drying equipment, silos and funded hundreds of energy-efficient systems to make businesses more profitable.

To learn more about how to qualify and apply for these funds, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mo.