Last month, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of at least $18 million in funding through the competitive Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program.
Administered by USDA Rural Development, the VAPG program provides grants to producers for working capital, feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing efforts used to establish value-added businesses.
This year, up to $75,000 is available for a planning grant, and up to $250,000 is available for an implementation grant.
Value-added grants can also be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products.
"Any farmer or rancher who needs planning or working capital funds to move their value-added ideas forward should check out this program," said Anna Johnson, policy program associate at Center for Rural Affairs. "In 2015, grants in Nebraska were used for construction of a microcreamery, marketing and distribution of pastured chickens and microgreens, and small farm working capital, among other projects."
This year’s notice includes an extended application period allowing farmers and ranchers time to put together proposals before and after the harvest season.
The deadline to submit paper applications is Jan. 31, 2018, and the deadline to submit electronic applications is Jan. 24, 2018. Electronic applications must be submitted through grants website.
“These grants are popular and competitive, and help is available,” Johnson said. “The best way to connect with resources is by contacting your local USDA Rural Development office. I recommend talking with officials sooner than later.” Local USDA Rural Development office information can be found online. Visit Center for rural affairs for more information.