Value-Added Producer Grants support local producers, biobased initiatives
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on May 1 the selection of 110 grants to agricultural producers and rural businesses that will help create jobs and develop new products.
The United States Department of Agriculture remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The announcement is one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located,” Vilsack said. “These awards also will advance USDA’s goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems.”
USDA selected 110 awardees for Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants. The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.
The awards include 11 projects involving bio-based products. They include grants to convert: Corn stover to anhydrous ammonia; miscanthus fiber, wood and goat manure into biochar and enhanced compost; and sorghum to electricity and fertilizer.
A number of Native American applicants will also receive support for projects. For example, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Farm & Ranch Enterprise of Colorado will receive more than $92,000 to bring a cornmeal product to market. This grant will help the tribe market and distribute the Indian cornmeal products, and securing customers. This year marks the first time that tribal entities have received funding through the VAPG program.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an important element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems. Previous VAPG awards supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass, http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm.
USDA Rural Development is funding an array of projects involving locally produced and marketed foods. These include cheese, wine, reduced-cholesterol dairy products, produce, packaged poultry, pork and beef products, and a variety of processed or prepared foods from locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative in Madison, Wis., will use a $150,000 working capital award to assist in the startup of a regional fresh produce food hub and packinghouse that was created to enhance access to wholesale markets for the local farm economy and create private-sectors jobs. The food hub will aggregate local produce sold under the Wisconsin Farmed brand.
Since the start of the Barack Obama administration, the VAPG program has helped more than 600 agricultural producers and rural businesses.
Through 2008, Congress made several enhancements to the VAPG program. It expanded the definition of value-added to include locally-produced agricultural food products, and it gave priority to projects that focus on increasing opportunities for small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
For a complete list of Value-Added Producer Grant award recipients selected, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/rdVAPGFY2012Awards5_1_2013.pdf. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.