December 13, 2019 – The USDA this week opened the 2020 funding round for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) in an effort to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities that relate to the processing and/or marketing of new products and to increase their returns and profitability. This competitive grant program allocates funds which can be used for planning and project development and working capital costs incurred while establishing or expanding viable, value-added businesses.
If you’re an eligible agricultural-related organization and have an eligible value added project, you can apply for up to $75,000 for planning grants or up to $250,000 for working capital grants. All grant funds awarded must be matched with non-federal funds on a 1:1 basis.
The deadline to submit applications is March 10, 2020.
If you’re awarded these grants, you will get up to $75,000 for the Planning Grant or up to $250,000 for the the processing and marketing of new products. -- Priority may be given to you if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative or are proposing a mid-tier value chain.
Through this program, qualifying companies and farmers have been able to add value to their commodities in various ways, such as:
- Crop/farm product/livestock processing
- Being produced, marketed, or segregated for its special character or identity (e.g., GMO-free, organic, grass-fed, local)
- Producing bioenergy and biofuels
- Being aggregated and marketed as a locally-produced food (e.g., as part of a Buy Local campaign, state-produced branding or labeling effort)
Linking farmers with local and regional supply networks in which they are equal partners (e.g., farm to school or other mid-tier value chains) Some examples of how these grant funds were used in the past (from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) include:
- In 2018, a farm was awarded a working capital grant to expand regional marketing and sales and assist in ongoing new product development. This farm raises organic corn, soybeans, wheat and oats on over 2,400 acres of USDA Certified Organic cropland.
- In 2018, a farm in Wisconsin was awarded a working capital grant to support branding and selling their organic beans and grains into regional markets. Over the last several years, the owner has been transitioning his conventional crop fields to organic, and as part of that process, has developed innovative production practices that he shares with other farmers at conferences across the country.
- In 2018, a business was awarded a working capital grant to support operational costs, hiring of labor, and the development of a new website. • In 2015, a creamery in Illinois received a working-capital grant to assist production and marketing of their artisan cheeses made with milk from their herd.
- In 2013, a farmer-led cooperative owned by the producers and the Wisconsin Farmers Union received a working capital grant to assist in the startup of a regional fresh produce food hub and packinghouse created to enhance access to wholesale markets for the local farm economy. This Cooperative subsequently received a second working capital grant in 2015 to expand marketing and sales of produce throughout the region.