USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service is offering fantastic funding opportunities through the Value-Added Producer Grants Program (or VAPG, my new favorite USDA acronym).
USDA will provide grants for producers who process or market their raw products in a way that adds value to their businesses. This could mean processing a raw product (like roasting almonds or making jams from fruits), marketing produce as “locally grown” or even offering farm and ranch-based renewable energy.
Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer cooperatives, producer groups and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. USDA is looking to prioritize applications from beginning farmers and ranchers, socially-disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and operators of small or medium-sized family farms. Sweet music to our ears, here at Farm Aid!
USDA is still accepting applications for fiscal year 2009, which are due by November 30 for eligibility. Producers interested in more information, including how to submit applications, should contact their State Rural Development Office. Contact information for each State Office can be found by clicking here.
Most recently, Congress approved a modest increase in funds to the VAPG program, raising it to $20.4 million for fiscal year 2010, up from $18.9 million for 2009. Look out for more information on the 2010 program on the Farm Aid blog in the coming months.