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Release: Grant Awards for Farm Business Development Announced by USDA

August 20, 2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Eugene Kim, Ferd Hoefner, 202-547-5754

Grant Awards for Farm Business Development Announced by USDA

Washington, D.C., August 19, 2014 – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that over 247 farm businesses from 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Micronesia will receive $25 million in grants from the 2014 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 has been a priority of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) since the program’s beginning in 2000,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Policy Director.  “We are pleased the new projects are now off and running to help improve farm income, create jobs, and develop new markets.”

The VAPG program contributes to farmer-led job and business creation in rural areas, while 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.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress clarified how program priorities are to be assessed and added returning veteran farmers as a new priority category.  The 2014 bill also provided $63 million in mandatory (direct) farm bill funding for VAPG to supplement the annual appropriation the program receives.  The substantive changes and mandatory funding were NSAC farm bill priorities.

“Congress made a good decision to increase funding for this rural economic stimulus program,” said NSAC Policy Specialist Eugene Kim.  “We are particularly keen on the ability of the value-added agriculture to improve prospects for small and mid-scale farms and for growing the local and regional food market.”

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 processes include:

  • Market differentiation: Georgia Mountain Farmers Network will use their grant to assist in the marketing of locally grown fruits and vegetables within Northeast Georgia.
  • Commodity segregation: Among the awards in this category was a grant to Greenwillow Grains in Oregon, which will use its grant to mill and distribute heirloom varieties of organic grains.  Arkansas-based Deepwoods Farm will use its grant for labor, packaging, delivery, and promotional expenses for its Heirloom Tomato business, enabling its tomatoes to be marketed to local and regional farmers markets, salsa companies, juice companies, and grocery stores.
  • Commodity processing, either on-farm or in the local community: South Dakota based Wild Idea Buffalo Company was awarded funds to expand and market local production of buffalo into processed meat.
  • Development of mid-tier value chains (i.e., farm-to-fork supply chains in which farmers play a key decision-making role and share in the profits): This year’s awards included a grant to NSAC member group Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and the Ozark Farmers Agricultural Cooperative (OFAC) in Missouri.  PASA received funding to implement a food hub that expands marketing opportunities for its growers, while the cooperative received funding for a feasibility study for its food hub and distribution center in West Plains, Missouri, to serve consumers in both Missouri and Arkansas.

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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Categories: Local & Regional Food Systems, Press Releases, Rural Development


One response to “Release: Grant Awards for Farm Business Development Announced by USDA”

  1. […] issued a press release on the VAPG awards and also has a farmers’ guide to the program on its […]

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