Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the availability of approximately $10.5 million in USDA grants to help farmers get into value-added activities.
“U.S. agriculture is connected to one in 12 American jobs, and value-added products from homegrown sources are one important way that agriculture generates economic growth,” Vilsack said. “Supporting producers and businesses to create value-added products strengthens rural economies, helps fuel innovation, and strengthens marketing opportunities for producers – especially at the local and regional level.”
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
These grants are available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. They may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives. This is one of the few grants programs available to private farms.
Grant applications are due by Feb. 24, 2014. More information about how to apply is available on page 70260 of the November 25 Federal Register, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
Secretary Vilsack said the announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs such as the Value-Added Producer Grant program for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has released a “Farmer’s Guide to Value-Added Producer Grant Funding.”