April 21, 2014
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is seeking initial public input on a farm bill change to the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) via written comments and a listening session scheduled for this Friday, April 25, 2014.
The 2014 Farm Bill made two additions to VAPG: (1) it created an additional priority preference for veteran farmers or ranchers and (2) it created a priority for projects that “best contribute” to creating or increasing marketing opportunities for beginning, socially disadvantaged, and/or veteran farmers and ranchers, and for operators of small-and medium-sized family farms and ranches that are structured as family farms.
USDA is inviting public input from stakeholders specifically on the second farm bill change listed above, the “best contributing’’ priority.
Important Deadlines and Instructions for Providing Comments
The public can provide comments either by:
Written comments are due by 5pm EDT on Thursday, April 24, 2014.
Additional Information about the Listening Session
The listening session is scheduled to take place from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm EDT on Friday, April 25, 2014 at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Because of USDA headquarters security and limited seating capacity, anyone who wants to attend the listening session must register by 5pm EDT on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 with an email to Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org providing the following information:
The listening session will begin with brief opening remarks by officials in USDA’s Rural Development mission area, and then individuals from the public will be able to provide oral comments.
NSAC Advocacy on VAPG Continues
NSAC has been closely involved in the creation and development of VAPG. NSAC helped to shape VAPG’s first authorization through the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000, and NSAC led the campaign to expand VAPG as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. During the 2008 Farm Bill cycle, NSAC advocated for changes and increased funding for VAPG, which further expanded the program’s scope.
In the 2014 Farm Bill, NSAC’s advocacy helped lead to $63 million in mandatory funding over the life of the bill and to the policy clarification for priority projects from producer groups mentioned above, for which USDA is seeking public input. NSAC looks forward to continuing to work with its members and with USDA on the implementation of VAPG so that farmers and ranchers — especially priority groups such as beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers, and operators of small-and medium-sized family farms and ranches — can fully utilize this successful program.