The USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program announced that $44M is available this year, the largest funding pot ever released. This also means the next two years will have significantly less funding. Applications must be completed by July 1.
This is a great opportunity to plan a value-added business or to help fund early stage working capital expenses. Grants of up to $75,000 for business planning and up to $250,000 for working capital will be available. A 50% match from the applicant is required and some of that can be in-kind.
“Value-added” is defined quite generously by the USDA. There are five ways to add value in the VAPG. Not only can it mean changing the physical state of your raw product, but it can mean the fact that you are marketing and branding your raw product as local, or by your means of production, such as grass-fed, or by the physical segregation and identify preservation of your raw product, such as non-GMO corn. Projects producing renewable energy from one’s own bio-based products can also be considered value-added.
The application is long and detailed, requiring much thought and thorough explanations. So please, start now at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html to find out if it can help you achieve your business goals. Contact Matt Harris with the Illinois USDA Rural Development office to find out if you and your business needs meet eligibility requirements at firstname.lastname@example.org ; 217.403.6211.
Grants Advising, made available through the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, also offers free consulting and aid with writing and locating grants. Contact Deirdre Birmingham at deirdreb4@gmail..com or 608-219-4279. Deirdre is an organic apple grower who is using a VAPG grant. Note: You are welcome to be on her email list of funding program announcements so that you know about everything that is out there! Just contact her to be added.