The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition released a Farmers' Guide to Value-Added Producer Grant Funding last week, which is intended to assist farmers in applying for funding. The release follows USDA's announcement of $14 million in available funds for Value-Added Producer Grants in FY2012.
VAPG awards funding to producers to help them develop farm-related businesses that add value to basic agricultural products through processing, product differentiation, commodity segregation, on-farm energy production, labeling and certification, and local and regional food marketing.
Applications for the competitive grants program are due at USDA State Rural Development offices by October 15, 2012.
"This program is one of the best USDA programs for boosting farm income, creating new job opportunities, and aiding rural economic renewal," said Helen Dombalis, NSAC Policy Associate. "We know farmers and ranchers across the country have been anxiously waiting for this year's VAPG funding announcement and are confident that NSAC's resource guide will be useful in assisting first-time and seasoned applicants alike."
The guide, available for free download online, includes clear information on new program rules and contains a step-by-step description of the application and ranking processes, with helpful hints to improve a producer's chances of obtaining funding from the highly competitive program. It also describes the program priorities for small and medium-sized family farms, beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and mid-tier value chains (regional supply networks with active farmer participation).
VAPG is a farm bill program and as such is up for renewal in the new farm bill Congress has been debating this year. To date, both the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed 2012 Farm Bills renew VAPG and both would provide it with $50 million in total new mandatory funding for the next five years.
"We applaud Congress for renewing VAPG in the new farm bill it is debating," said Dombalis. "The funding level proposed in both bills, however, is only half of the historic VAPG funding levels. We hope that the total funding level is doubled to $100 million for the next five years in the final version of the farm bill. That would be a surefire way to accelerate economic recovery, create long-term sustainable income streams for farmers and farming communities, and meet consumer demand for high quality agricultural products."
Download the free guide on NSAC's publications page.