USDA Rural Development California State Director Glenda Humiston today encouraged farmers, ranchers and cooperatives to apply for the $30 million available to develop new value-added product lines. Funding is available through USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
"We want to ensure that California's agricultural producers are aware of this opportunity to help improve the bottom line for their operations," said Humiston. "Value-Added Producer Grants help promote entrepreneurship opportunities, which in turn strengthens our rural economies. This program also highlights the many benefits of local and regional food systems."
Approximately $30 million in grants are available nationwide. Paper applications will be accepted until July 7, 2015 and electronic applications submitted through Grants.gov are due July 2, 2015. More information on how to apply can be found on page 26528 of the May 8, Federal Register.
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. Grants may be used for working capital and planning activities and applicants must provide matching funds equal to their grant award. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to military veteran, socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, small- to medium-size family farms, farmer/rancher cooperatives, and mid-tier value chain projects.
Last year, seven VAPGs totaling $719,914 were awarded in California, helping a total of 4,000 farmers. For example, Sunsweet Growers, Inc, a more than 300 member cooperative based in Yuba City, received a $200,000 working capital grant to help market their new D'Noir Prune Juice. And McClelland's Dairy, a family-owned organic dairy in Petaluma, received a $46,000 planning grant to evaluate the feasibility of an on-farm cheese processing facility.
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.