Funding to Support Beginning, Veteran, and Socially-disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers to Expand Businesses
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department plans to make $30 million available to farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Funding will be made available through USDA’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.”
VAPG 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 Value-Added Producer Grants 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 the 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.
Tuana Jones, Business Program Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State, said her agency has invested over $5.14 million in 41 projects throughout Washington since 2009. “The program is popular and growing,” said Jones, who noted that they received a record number of applications for a wide range of agricultural value-added products last year. “We look forward to another strong year working with producers and ranchers.”
For more detailed information, to view the Federal Register notice and for access to application forms, agricultural producers and ranchers can visit the web at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants .
- Greg York in western Washington at 360-704-7729 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Roni Baer in eastern Washington at 509-454-5743, Ext. 134 or email@example.com
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.
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Washington DC: Anne Todd, (202) 720-1021
Washington State: Phil Eggman, (360) 470-9900