Grant awards for value-added business development announced by USDA

Vernita Dore, Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development, announced that 258 farm businesses from 47 states, Puerto Rico, and the Western Pacific will receive $34 million in grants from the 2015 round of the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program. The Value Added Producer Grants program awards competitive grants that facilitate the creation and development of value-added, farmer-owned businesses.

“The VAPG program is USDA’s premier producer-led rural development program,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Policy Director. “With this latest announcement, VAPG builds on its track record of helping farmers and ranchers across the country create jobs and enhance rural economies through value-added businesses.”

The VAPG program contributes to business creation in rural areas, while also enhancing food choices for consumers. Individual independent agricultural producers, groups of independent producers, producer-controlled entities, organizations representing agricultural producers, and farmer or rancher cooperatives are eligible. VAPG grants may be used for working capital or to develop business plans and feasibility studies for new ventures.

NSAC campaigned for improvements to the program made in the 2008 Farm Bill, including a consideration of local food enterprises and food supply networks linking farm to table, plus program priorities for assisting small and mid-size family farms as well as beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The 2014 Farm Bill renewed VAPG, added veterans to the program priorities, and provided $63 million in mandatory (direct) farm bill funding to supplement the annual appropriation the program receives.

The term “value-added” describes a process whereby an agricultural commodity or product has undergone a change in physical state or was produced, marketed, or segregated (i.e., identity-preserved, eco-labeling) in a manner that enhances its value or expands the product’s customer base. Examples of value-added projects include:
  • A $242,975 grant to the Texas Grassfed Association to support the expansion a mid-tier value chain for grassfed livestock products.
  • A $36,000 grant to Dobler Hill Dairy, LLC in Washington State to develop a feasibility study and business plan for goat milk cheese production.
  • A $245,897 grant to Stonewood Farm Inc. in Vermont to help expand the production, marketing and distribution of value-added turkey products.
  • A $244,943 grant to the Regional Food Hub Steering Committee in Kansas to finance business start-up costs for a Regional Food Hub to serve northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and the Kansas City Metro Region.
Click here for the complete list of the new Value-Added Producer Grant award recipients.
Previous VAPG awards supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass.

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