Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted the importance of rural entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy and announced investments to help rural businesses grow, diversify and create jobs. USDA is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and create new products to market.
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program and includes more than $412,000 for five Kentucky projects.
The VAPG program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.
“The funding we are announcing today will have far-reaching, positive impacts in rural communities across the country,” Vilsack said. “The investments will help businesses create new products, expand their operations, and support local and regional food systems. The new Farm Bill expands this program to provide even more of these opportunities.”
Since 2009, USDA has awarded 863 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $108 million. Twenty percent of the grants and 16 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers.
“Helping small producers grow their businesses is vital to the economic success of rural communities,” said Tom Fern, State Director for USDA Rural Development. “The VAPG program offers Kentucky agribusiness owners opportunities for economic development and allows for job retention and creation.”
The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for the program from $15 million to $63 million over five years – while reauthorizing an additional $40 million in discretionary funding. Kentucky entrepreneurs selected for funding this year include:
- Equus Run Vineyards in Woodford County was awarded $162,066 to expand the marketing area of Kentucky-Branded Fruit Beverages.
- Hill and Hollow Farm in Metcalfe County was awarded $14,611 to add value to raw fleece by developing Indigo Blue and Goldenrod Yellow Yarn, Organic Natural Yarn and Organic Wool Roving.
- Lazy Eight Stock Farm in Garrard County was awarded $49,999 to expand its market for Kentucky grown Certified Organic Produce.
- Need More Acres Farm in Warren County was awarded $114,670 to expand its customer base and add new value‐added products to increase revenues.
- Reid's Orchard in Daviess County was awarded $71,500 to expand its marketing area.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems.
USDA is awarding Value-Added Producer Grants in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia. A full list of recipients is available here. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
The announcement of today’s funding was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; 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.