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Georgia Ag Producers Growing Market Opportunities with USDA's Value Added Grant

Al Burns
Release Date

Today U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development celebrated expanding market opportunities for local food producers during visits to several South Georgia businesses. Each business was a recent recipient of USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant which helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products. 

   “USDA is helping these rural producers fine tune operations and expand placement of their Georgia grown value added products throughout the U.S.,” said Donnie Thomas, Rural Development Georgia Acting State Director.

   For example, Dreaming Cow Creamery of Pavo, Ga is using a working capital VAPG to implement an aggressive marketing plan to expand the market for Dreaming Cow Yogurt, a high quality natural yogurt made on the farm from their grass-fed cows.

  Dixie's Thompson Farms Country Cured Meats, LLC will use the VAPG to pay labor in the processing facility, to purchase processing supplies and labels, to purchase seasonings and pay delivery and freight as it expands its market for hogs produced GMO free to Whole Food Markets, Disney, and other distributors.

   Lastly, Acting State Director Thomas and VAPG program coordinator Al Burns visited Oliver Oil Company, LLC in Pitts, Ga who are using the program to expand and implement efficiencies in its cold-pressed sunflower oil operation to achieve economies of scale, specialize labor output and broaden state, regional and national marketing reach.

   Since 2009, USDA has awarded 44 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $9 million to Georgia producers developing products for local and national markets such as blueberries, specialty pork and beef, olives, pecans, honey and more. For more information, see http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants/ga or call program specialist Al Burns at (229) 382-0273 ext. 109.

   Congress increased funding for the VAPG program when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill. The Act reauthorized appropriations for Value-Added Producer Grants through 2018 with a total of $63 million in mandatory funding nationwide, which will be available until expended to help farmers and ranchers diversify into new markets, including local and regional food systems and specialty crop production. The program encourages a wide range of projects and gives funding priority to operators of small and medium-sized farms and ranches, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and veterans when awarding grants to eligible independent producers.

   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.