RICHMOND, Va. — Farmers and rural entrepreneurs seeking to expand production and marketing of agricultural products can apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture Value-Added Producer Grants.
USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service began accepting applications on Dec. 21 and will continue accepting applications through March 22. The VAPG program provides funding to help agricultural producers develop new value-added products and activities, expand production of existing products, and increase marketing opportunities for those products.
Independent agricultural producers, producer groups, farming cooperatives and producer-based businesses are eligible to apply for grant funding, totaling $33 million for fiscal year 2021.
Grant funds may be used by farmers and other producer-based businesses for expenses related to processing, marketing and advertising value-added agricultural products.
Additionally, funds may be used for planning activities such as developing business plans or conducting feasibility studies for producing and marketing value-added products.
Before applying, applicants must first request a Data Universal Number System for their organizations, and then register with the System for Award Management. Once completed, applications can be submitted online.
Paper applications also can be sent to USDA’s Rural Development State Office in Virginia.
Interested farmers and agribusinesses are encouraged to contact the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability, an affiliate of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, for assistance in submitting their applications.
VA FAIRS works with its clients throughout the application process, assisting with strategic business planning, feasibility studies, research and data collection, and document preparation to strengthen grant submissions.
Among the 14 Virginia agribusinesses that received value-added grants from USDA in 2020, 13 were assisted by VA FAIRS, which helped its clients collect $2.8 million in grant funding.
“We’ve been working with the Value-Added Producer Grant program for over 15 years, and it remains one of our most valuable and most-utilized services,” said Whitney Perkins, VFBF assistant director of agriculture, development and innovation.
“In years past our foundation has experienced success rates from the high 90s to 100% for application funding, and our team is highly adept with the nuances of the application process and is here to support producers,” she explained. “We want to help them from start to finish to create applications that are complete and compliant.”
–Virginia Farm Bureau