Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Whole Foods to Privately Support Local Growers with $25 Million

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

If you are expanding a local growing or food business, you might want to look to Whole Foods Market. Or, do you wish to convert your farm to organic?

They had success with their $10 million in fixed low-interest loans to over 150 businesses. So why not follow it up and keep the growing going?

They announced last Thursday that they have now committed $25 million in funding to their Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP). Since 2007, they have provided 184 loans to 155 companies. Funds are targeted to help local growers, producers and food artisans.

Whole Foods (WF) appears to be walking the walk to better local growing by sending money where it's needed - the small local growing pioneers. To people where it might otherwise be difficult to obtain a loan, or at least a low-interest one.


According to them, their first $10 million has enabled growth, but also went to pioneer projects like biodynamic farming, non-GMO animal feed, pollinator health and healthier, environmental-protective packaging.

The addition of $15 million can go a long way, so the company welcomes new loan applications from producers seeking to expand their businesses. Whether applicants offer a distinctive artisan food product or a new hydroponic farming facility, WF loan administrators, buyers and local foragers work closely with business owners to drive growth and success.

Betsy Foster, the global vice president of growth and business development
emphasizes that expanding the program is a direct result of the innovations and successes of the loan recipients.

While some loan recipients sell products in Whole Foods Market stores, such as organic vegetable farmers, grass-fed cattle ranchers, natural body care producers and gluten-free bakers, many other recipients operate businesses that support the natural foods industry. Additionally, they wish to help more women start businesses.

In the end, it really expands the WF business but could also expand the selection and quality for customers. Consumer enthusiasm for WF has waxed and waned over the years with controversies surrounding GMOs and corporatism. This program appears to be keeping funds in the U.S.

Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods Market's quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Typical loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 and have fixed low-interest rates.

Previous loan recipients have used their loans for purchasing more livestock, investing in new equipment, expanding production facilities, adapting to more sustainable practices or converting to organic production.

To view online video testimonials from loan recipients, and for other program details, visit:
media.wholefoodsmarket.com/press/local .

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

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