The USDA Value-Added Producer Grant Program expects to announce a call for applications this April! 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 $200,000 for working capital were made last year.
“Value-added” is defined quite generously by the USDA. Not only does it mean changing the physical state of your raw product, but it can mean the fact that you are marketing and branding your fresh product as local, or by your means of production, such as organically grown, or by physical segregation of your raw product, such as non-GMO corn. Projects producing renewable energy from one’s raw products might also be considered value-added.
This year is one of the best years to apply. More projects will be funded this year than usual due an exceptionally large pool of funding – $41M nationally. And a new consideration for military veterans is expected in the announcement. Beginning farmers, minority farmers, or women-owned farming businesses might be eligible for extra points in the scoring of applications.
The application is long and detailed, requiring much thought and planning.
There is a 50% matching funds requirement. So please, investigate this program now at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html to find out if it can help you achieve your business goals. Start on your application even before the federal announcement, if it is not already out. Use last year’s application toolkit. Once the program is announced this year, applications will be due in only 60 days.
The growing season is upon us. But don’t miss at least considering this opportunity.
Use free Grants Advising made available through the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. Contact Deirdre Birmingham at deirdreb4@gmail..com or 608-219-4279. Deirdre is also an organic apple grower and has used this program herself. You are welcome to be on her email list of funding program announcements so that you know what’s out there!