WASHINGTON — On March 17, 2023, USDA Rural Development announced the availability of at least $31 million in total funding for Value-Added Producer (VAPG) projects and $3 million for Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG). The application window to apply is now open. Online applications will be accepted until May 11 for VAPG and May 16 for SDGG through grants.gov.
Additional information on paper application deadlines is on the NSAC blog. NSAC has updated the 2023 Farmers’ Guide to Applying for the Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
Value-Added Producer Grants
The VAPG program offers critical annual funding opportunities to farmers and their local economies. Value-added products bring in higher prices than raw products alone, helping farmers and ranchers improve their bottom lines and grow their businesses – which in turn increases hiring and spending in their local communities!
The term “value-added” includes foods or goods made from raw agricultural products that (a) have undergone a change in physical state, (b) were produced, marketed, or segregated (i.e., identity preserved, eco-labeling) in a manner that enhances its value or expands the customer base of the product, or (c) were aggregated and marketed as a locally-produced food. Expanding to value-added production can be time and resource intensive, which is why VAPG continues to be an impactful program that offers opportunities to kickstart new, or expand existing, value-added operations.
Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant
Rural Cooperative Development Grants were established to provide technical assistance to individuals or businesses to create or expand rural cooperatives, including, but not exclusively, food and farming cooperatives. In 2014, Congress created a set-aside within the program to provide funding for targeted assistance for “socially disadvantaged groups,” which created the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG). For the purpose of this opportunity, socially disadvantaged groups means a group whose members have been subject to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity.
–National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)