By John Crabtree,
Center for Rural Affairs
USDA is accepting applications for $44 million in competitive Value Added Producer Grants to develop value added ventures. In times of low commodity prices, the help available through this program is especially appealing.
The grant program gives priority to projects that expand opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms and for beginning, socially disadvantaged, and military veteran farmers and ranchers. Local food marketing projects are eligible as well, particularly for distribution systems that increase the return to the farmer.
Grants assist farmers and ranchers in starting and expanding ventures that increase the value of raw farm and ranch products. Marketing unique and high quality food products – local, natural, organic, etc. – also adds value.
The deadline for paper applications is July 1. Online applications need to be completed by June 24. Our friends at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released their annual Farmer’s Guide to the VAPG Program. It includes a step-by-step description of the application process. You can find it here: http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/.
In small town America, one of the best strategies for creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities is fostering entrepreneurship and small business development. On rural America’s family farms and ranches, that means value added and niche market ventures.
Moreover, creating these ventures fosters entrepreneurship, keeps wealth in rural communities, enhances farm and ranch profitability, revives rural mainstreets and creates opportunities for young families to return to rural America.
State USDA Rural Development offices are available for assistance: http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.