AgMRC Assists Ag Producers in Applying for USDA Value-added Grants

AgMRCAMES, Iowa – Agricultural producers applying for value-added producer grants can find resources to assist them through the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The value-added producer grant program is a competitive program administered by USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Service. Grant funding was announced in the Federal Register Nov. 23, 2013.

AgMRC is a virtual library of agricultural value-added opportunities, business development and consulting resources for producers, located at www.agmrc.org.

“There is a direct link on the home page of the site to take producers directly to a dedicated page on value-added producer grants with the federal notice of funding available, grant templates and a directory of state USDA rural development offices,” said Ray Hansen, director of the center. “Additionally, AgMRC staff created new Web-based training tools to explain the VAPG program and resources for producers to develop their business or find new market opportunities for an existing business.”

Producers can investigate specific commodity information on many different niche opportunities and can locate specific laws, consultants and individual contacts within their individual state to assist them in the grant application process.

USDA announced the availability of $10.5 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2013 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Two types of grant funding are available – planning grants and working capital grants. Planning grants can be used for feasibility studies, business plans and marketing analysis studies. The maximum planning grant is $75,000. Maximum working capital grants are $200,000.

Value-added products are defined as follows:

  1. A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling  wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam);
  2. The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan (such as organically produced products);
  3. The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system).

Value-added also includes using any agricultural product or commodity to produce renewable energy on a farm or ranch or food produced and marketed locally.

Applications must be completed and submitted to the state USDA Rural Development office no later than Feb. 24, 2014.

Located at Iowa State University, AgMRC is a national center for value-added agriculture resources. For more information, visit www.agmrc.org or USDA Rural Development at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/bcp_vapg.html.

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