WASHINGTON — In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent announcement of at least $37 million in available grant support via the Value Added Producer Grant Program, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has released a newly updated version of its “Farmers’ Guide to Applying for the Value Added Producer Grant Program.”
NSAC’s newly updated guide includes everything interested producers need to know about VAPG to determine if the program is a good fit for their operation, as well as details on changes made in the 2018 farm bill, and helpful tips to improve a producer’s chances of obtaining funding from this highly competitive program.
The guide provides clear information on the program’s application requirements, including a step-by-step description of the application and ranking processes, and is available for free on the NSAC website: sustainableagriculture.net/publications.
The deadline to submit paper applications in-person or via mail is March 10. The deadline to submit electronic applications is March 5. Electronic applications must be submitted through grants.gov.
To ensure a strong and diverse applicant pool, NSAC encourages all interested farmers, ranchers, fishermen and food entrepreneurs to apply — particularly those from historically underserved communities.
“For farmers and ranchers interested in taking their operation to the next level with value-added products or marketing, VAPG is an excellent resource,” said Wes King, NSAC senior policy specialist.
“It’s also a highly competitive program, however, and the application process can be complicated. Our farmers’ guide is an amazing resource for producers because it lays out all the program details, eligibility guidelines, and other details in a simple and easy to use format. When a farm operation shifts to value-added production, or grows their value-added operation, it can have immensely positive effects both on the farmer’s bottom line, as well as on their larger community.”
VAPG funds can be used for working capital, feasibility studies and business plans and for marketing efforts to establish viable value-added businesses.
Up to $75,000 is available for planning grants and up to $250,000 is available for working-capital grants. Individual and groups of producers, as well as farmer coops and producer-controlled businesses, are eligible to apply for these grants.
NSAC helped create VAPG as part of the 2000 Agricultural Risk Protection Act. For the last 20 years, the coalition has been one of the leading advocates for VAPG and other programs that support local food systems and rural development.
In the 2018 farm bill, NSAC led advocacy efforts for the inclusion of the Local Agriculture Market Program, which moved VAPG and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program under a single umbrella, and provided permanent mandatory funding for each program.
The coalition has also led appropriations advocacy to secure additional discretionary funds for VAPG. The fiscal year 2019 omnibus appropriations bill included $15 million for VAPG, and the fiscal year 2020 minibus appropriations bill includes $12 million in additional funding for the program.