USDA Announces $30 Million Available for Food Entrepreneurs and Agricultural Producers to Develop New Products

Name
Erin McDuff
City
Portland
State
Oregon
Release Date
May 11, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $30 million available to farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Funding will be made available through USDA Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“Farmers and ranchers are creative people who, with a little help, can put that creativity to work and improve the bottom line for their operations,” Vilsack said. “Value Added Producer Grants enable them to develop new product lines to grow their businesses and expand their contributions to our nation’s economy. This support is especially important for beginning farmers, military veterans engaging in farming, and smaller farm operations participating in the local and regional food system.”

More information on how to apply is available on page 26528 of the May 8 Federal Register. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due July 2. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 7. In Oregon, paper applications must be received no later than 4:30 p.m. in the State Office:

          USDA Rural Development
          Business Programs, ATTN: VAPG Coordinator
          1201 NE Lloyd Blvd
          Suite 801
          (503) 414-3395

We encourage you to contact Oregon’s VAPG Coordinator, Mandie Ellenwood, at mandie.ellenwood@or.usda.gov or (541) 673-0136 ext. 110 prior to beginning work on your application for more details about the requirements and process. We also encourage you to visit the VAPG program website. Application toolkits are available under the “Forms & Resources” tab.

“USDA is committed to helping Oregon producers develop and market value-added products, which are an important component of our natural resource economy,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.

Value Added Producer Grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or additional uses for already developed product lines. Military veterans, socially-disadvantaged, and beginning farmers and ranchers; operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches; farmer and rancher cooperatives; and applicants that propose mid-tier value chain projects are given special priority in applying for VAPGs. Additional priority is given to group applicants who seek funding for projects that best contribute to creating or increasing marketing opportunities for these type of operators.

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 853 VAPGs totaling $104.5 million. Approximately 19 percent of the grants and 13 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. 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 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.