May 28, 2010
The long anticipated proposed rule for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program was published in today’s Federal Register. The comment period for the proposed rule is only 30 days with comments on the regulatory provisions due by June 28, 2010.
We expect the announcement of VAPG awards from the 2009 competition next week, and will post those results when we know them. The 2008 Farm Bill added provisions for local food and mid-tier value chains and strengthened provisions on small and medium-sized family farms and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers which will hopefully be reflected in the types of awards made next week.
To assist with public comment on the proposed rule, NSAC will post an analysis and talking points next week. There are several remaining major sticking points in the proposed rule that will require an outpouring of comments to help ensure they get fixed.
VAPG has been operating very successfully without a rule since its inception in 2000, issuing competitive grants to farmers, groups of farmers, and farm cooperatives to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses.
However, the Obama Administration has signaled that they will not issue a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) in 2010 until the rule process is complete. This decision would have been fine had the rulemaking been completed in a timely fashion. Now, however, two years after passage of the farm bill, we are already eight months into the fiscal year and only at the proposed rule stage. Completing the rulemaking, issuing the NOFA, allowing adequate time for proposals to be written and submitted, evaluating submissions, and making awards all in the four months left in this fiscal year is close to impossible. Nonetheless, we will continue to urge the bureaucracy to move faster, though will insist that the NOFA include a reasonable amount of time for proposals to be written and submitted.
Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted online here; by mail to Branch Chief, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 0742, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250–0742; or by courier to Branch Chief, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 300 7th Street, SW., 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20024.
For more information, contact Andrew Jermolowicz at USDA, (202) 720–7558, CPGrants@wdc.usda.gov.