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For Immediate Release: Grants for Farm and Rural Business Development Announced

May 2, 2013

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2013

Contact: Ferd Hoefner, 202-547-5754

Grants for Farm and Rural Business Development Announced

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2013 – Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that over 110 agricultural producers from 43 states will receive nearly $16.8 million in grants from the 2012 round of the Value-Added Producer Grants program.  The Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program awards competitive grants that facilitate the creation and development of value-added, producer-owned businesses.  Individual independent agricultural producers, groups of independent producers, producer-controlled entities, organizations representing agricultural producers, and farmer or rancher cooperatives are eligible.

“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 delighted by the strong set of new projects that help improve farm income, create jobs, and develop a stronger local and regional food system.”

The VAPG program addresses key barriers to small business development and consistently contributes to farmer-led job creation in rural areas.  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.  Additional improvements included a program priority for assisting small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers, as well as beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

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:

  • Commodity processing, either on-farm or in the local community: Among the new VAPG awards were fifteen dairies in twelve states for production and marketing projects or feasibility studies for artisanal and specialty cheeses made on-farm.
  • Market differentiation: This year, eight VAPG awards went to organic products, including an award to the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin for Organic White Corn Products.
  • Commodity segregation: Among the new awards in this category was a grant to an Ohio grain elevator for a feasibility study to assess the export markets for non-GMO specialty soybeans.
  • 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 the Mississippi Delta Southern Black Women in Agriculture Cooperative.  The Cooperative received funding to work with supply chain partners to develop, produce, and brand sweet potato products for local markets.

The VAPG program is featured in two bills recently introduced in Congress.  Both bills – the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 679 and H.R. 1414) and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (S. 837 and H.R. 1727) – propose to fund the VAPG program at $20 million a year in mandatory funding for the 2013 Farm Bill.  Last year, the Senate-passed Farm Bill and the House Committee-passed Farm Bill included the equivalent of $10 million a year in farm bill funding for VAPG.  NSAC is urging both the House and Senate to fund the program at $20 million annually.

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.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.


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

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