Thomas Fern Announces $1.7 Million in Grants across Kentucky

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Rural Development State Director Thomas G. Fern is announcing the USDA is providing more than $1.7 million to help farmers, ranchers, small businesses and entrepreneurs nationwide develop new product lines in Kentucky. USDA is investing in 13 projects through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.

“The Value-Added Producer Grants are highly sought-after funding sources for farmers and rural-based businesses,” Fern said. “These grants provide financing to help producers develop new product lines, along with increasing and retaining income in their communities. Value-Added Producer Grants support small business entrepreneurship, a major reason why rural Kentucky is a making an economic comeback.”

VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agricultural products or promote additional uses for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

Farmer Joe’s, LLC, is receiving a $224,167 value-added grant to process and package pasteurized chicken, duck, turkey, and pork to be sold wholesale and retail in Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio areas. Another Kentucky recipient, Four Petal Farm, LLC, is receiving a $40,438 grant to harvest wild Appalachian Elderflower, Spicebush, Sourwood, Sumac, and Autumn Olive for simple syrup products that deliver natural high quality products locally, regionally and nationally.

“USDA Rural Development invests in improving economies and producing high quality food in rural areas through the Value-Added Producer Grant program,” Fern said. “Kentucky businesses like Farmer Joe’s and Four Petal Farm are growing local economies with their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.”

In Georgetown, Homegrown Direct, LLC, is receiving a $250,000 grant to market locally grown produce, including various types of vegetables. This will potentially expand the farm’s operation throughout large grocery stores in Kentucky. Palmer Farms Meat, LLC, in Calloway County, has been selected for a $49,995 grant to support processing fees, labor, marketing and shipping of their grass fed beef.

USDA has awarded 1,441 VAPG awards since 2009, totaling $183 million. Congress increased funding for the program in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 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 a key component of rural economic development.

Wildcat Mountain Cheese, LLC, in East Bernstadt received a $95,071 VAPG grant to increase production and sales of farmstead artisan cheese and cheese curds from 100 pounds of cheese to 300 pounds per week. In Paris, Six Ridges Beef, LLC, received $226,598 to market, process, and distribute packaged beef, expanding the customer base and increasing revenue.

Today’s funding builds on USDA’s historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. USDA has worked to strengthen and support rural communities and American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. Funding for each project announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARDThis is an external link or third-party site outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.) has invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; and invested $38.2 billion in 1,057 electric projects that have financed more than 198,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. USDA also helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit

Last Modified: 11/02/2016