Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is providing more than $45 million to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide develop new product lines. USDA is investing in 325 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
“Value-Added Producer Grants are one of USDA’s most sought-after funding sources for veteran and beginning farmers, and rural-based businesses,” Vilsack said. “These grants provide a much-needed source of financing to help producers develop new product lines and increase their income, and keep that income in their communities. Economic development initiatives like this one are working – the unemployment rate in rural America is at an eight-year low and incomes rose 3.4 percent last year. Small business entrepreneurship, which Value-Added Producer Grants support, is a major reason why rural America is a making a comeback.”
VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given priority.
Five grants were awarded to Texas based businesses including PPC Farms, LLC, T.T. Winters, Inc., Marfa Maid Dairy, Rio Grande Mesquite, LLC., and Urban Produce, LLC.
“This program enables America’s agriculture producers to expand their product offerings, revenue, and increase economic opportunity by bringing additional value to what they currently produce,” said Paco Valentin, Texas Rural Development State Director. “We are pleased to offer funding to rural producers whose endeavors will increase the value of agricultural commodities in their communities.”
USDA has awarded 1,441 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183 million. Congress increased funding for the program in the 2014 Farm Bill. The grants are a key element of 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 a key component of rural economic development.
To read more about USDA’s investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA's entry on Medium.com, Rural America Is Back in Business.