USDA Rural Development State Director Dave Conine today announced that USDA is making $30 million available to farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Funding will be made available through USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
“Farmers and ranchers are innovative people with ideas about the future of agriculture,” Conine said, “With a little help, they can put those ideas into action. The Value-Added Producer Grant program enables them to develop new products, grow their business, and contribute to Utah’s economy as well as local and regional food systems.”
More information on how to apply is on page 26528 of the May 8 Federal Register. Deadlines to submit applications are as follows:
• July 7 for paper applications
• July 2 for electronic applications submitted through Grants.gov.
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or additional uses for already developed product lines. Among Utah’s successful past VAPG projects are Heber Valley Artisan Cheese and Cornaby’s Specialty Foods. These grantees have used funds to improve the competitive nature of their businesses and to develop innovative products.
During the 2013-2014 funding cycle, nearly half of VAPG awards went to farmers and ranchers developing products for the local food sector. Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department’s work on local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development.
Congress increased funding for the VAPG program when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since the bill’s enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including expanding access to rural credit, developing new markets for rural-made products, and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.