USDA-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced USDA-RD plans to make $30 million available nationally 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.
"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," said Nordlund.
For example in 2014, the Alaska Flour Company used the VAPG’s one-to-one match funding for marketing efforts to introduce their locally grown products into Alaskan markets with emphasis on accessing larger retail chains and institutional bulk sales through distributors. The Alaska Flour Company specializes in high-quality, artisan, stone-ground barley flour and barley cereals grown and milled on their farm in Delta Junction, AK.
More information on how to apply is on page 26528 of the May 8, 2015 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 7, 2015. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due July 2, 2015. Application templates and resource materials are available online at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded 853 Value-Added Producer Grants nationally, 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.
VAPGs 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. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development. Over the years, Alaskans' desire to buy locally produced food has increased dramatically for a variety of reasons, such as food security and food safety concerns; reduced transportation impacts to the environment; and economic and rural development opportunities.
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.