WASHINGTON — The availability of nearly $10.5 million in
U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to help agricultural producers enter into
value-added activities designed to give them a competitive business edge was
announced by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs,
and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that
agriculture generates economic growth,” Vilsack said. “Supporting producers and
businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps
fuel innovation and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers —
especially at the local and regional level.”
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added
Producer Grant program. Grants are available to help agricultural producers
create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing
of existing products or goods or to develop specialty and niche products.
They may be used for working capital and planning
activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000, and the maximum
planning grant is $75,000.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer
and rancher cooperatives and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is
given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers and to small-
to medium-size family farms or farmer/ rancher cooperatives.
The Value-Added Producer Grant program is one of many USDA
programs that support the development of strong local and regional food systems
as part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Launched in 2009,
the initiative strengthens ties between agricultural producers and their local
communities, helping meet growing consumer demand and creating opportunities for
small business development. Initiatives like this create new income
opportunities for farmers, generate wealth that will stay in rural communities,
and increase access to healthy, local foods in underserved communities. All of
these actions boost local economies.
Since 2009, the Obama administration has provided
agricultural producers with almost $80 million in Value-Added Producer Grant
assistance that has supported more than 600 value-added projects.
The project is supplying emerging markets with locally grown
produce to enhance production, marketing and distribution infrastructure among
women and minority landowners in persistently poor rural communities.
Additional examples of how VAPGs assist local and regional
food producers are available on the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
Compass, which is searchable by ZIP code and key word.
Grant applications are due by Feb. 24. More information
about how to apply is available by contacting any USDA Rural Development state