July 8, 2011
August 29, 2011 Deadline for Farm Value-Added Grants
USDA has invited applications for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). Two years of funding totaling more than $37 million will be awarded. Proposals are due August 29th, 2011.
VAPG is a competitive grants program that awards grants to producers to help them develop farm-related businesses that add value to basic agricultural products through branding, processing, product differentiation, labeling and certification, and marketing. VAPG includes projects that market inherently value-added production, such as organic crops, grass-fed livestock, and locally produced and marketed food products. VAPG also funds regional food supply networks that benefit small and mid-sized farms by incorporating producers into larger farm-to-plate value chains.
Two types of grants are available:
The agency estimates it will make about 250 awards, announced by the end of November 2011 and that the average size grant award will be $116,000. In the last round of awards, 41 percent of total awards were under $50,000. Applicants may propose any time frame for the project provided it does not exceed three years.
The complete application package will be available from the USDA Rural Development site. The agency has also provided an application template.
You can also find out more about eligibility and the application process guidelines by contacting your local USDA Rural Development Office, or contact the national program staff Lyn Millhiser at 202-720-1227 or Tracey Kennedy at 202-690-1428, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
If you are an agricultural producer or producer-controlled entity interested in applying, you can learn more at NSAC’s summary of the VAPG program and read this guide to applying from the University of Wisconsin’s Agricultural Innovation Center. Templates for applications are available from the University of Nebraska’s Food Processing Center. More information specifically about this 2011 iteration of the program will likely be forthcoming in the near future.
To see how the FY 2009 awards were distributed and 15 examples of the projects that were funded, go to NSAC’s two page summary of the 2009 VAPG projects.
To read a summary of the NSAC comments to USDA on the February 2011 Interim Final Rule for VAPG, or to read those comments in their entirety, go to this NSAC blog post.
A video of USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan discussing the many innovative uses of the VAPG program is also available for viewing.