Funding for Farmers: 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.
“Value-added” is defined quite generously by the USDA. 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 organically grown, or by the physical segregation 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. There are five ways to add value in the VAPG.
This year may be one of the best years to apply. The VAPG is considering providing a large pot of funds this year, which would mean much less funding available in 2017 and 2018. Military veterans, beginning farmers, minority farmers, or women-owned farming businesses can get extra points in the scoring of applications, as do some farmer groups that benefit these types of farmers.
Value-Added Producer Grants may be used to develop new products and create additional uses for existing ones. Priority for these grants is given to veterans, members of socially disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, and operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches. Additional priority is given to applicants who seek funding for projects that will create or increase marketing opportunities for these types of operators.
The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1, 2016. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due June 24, 2016. For the full details visithttp://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants
Need Help applying for this funding for farmers?
Use free Grants Advising made available through the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. Contact Deirdre Birmingham at email@example.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!
State Director | (217) 403-6200 | www.rd.usda.gov/il
Cooperative Specialist | Matthew.Harris@il.usda.gov | (217) 403-6211
Business Programs Director | Ronald.Firkins@il.usda.gov | (217) 403-6217
Cooperative Specialist | David.Chestnut@il.usda.gov | (217) 403-6249