If you’re a farmer looking to grow your operation, think about applying for a Value Added Producer Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Illinois farmers have used the grants to expand their hydroponic growing operations, grow their dairy into a creamery, and even more.
The maximum planning grant is $75,000 and the maximum capital project grant is $200,000. Value added activities include food processing, like making flour, cheese or jams, or market differentiation, like raising grass-fed or organic beef.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has a PDF guide for producers or others interested in applying for a VAPG. It is available at http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2013-2014-VAPG-Application-Guide-NSAC-FINAL.pdf
The application for VAPGs is open through Feb. 24, 2014. For more information, or to apply, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_vapg.html.