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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

New Markets and Opportunities

For too long, communities across Wisconsin have seen the decline in our state’s agricultural economy. Farmers vulnerable to commodity markets’ ups and downs have lost their land, businesses that support them closed, and rural communities have waned.

But there are many bright spots, where agricultural entrepreneurs are not only making a living, but growing local economies.  Farmers are selling to local markets. Entrepreneurs are creating value-added products. Local businesses are popping up to support these new enterprises. This type of economic development keeps farmers on the land, keeps dollars circulating locally, and improves the health of our urban and rural communities alike.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute works to expand new markets and opportunities in many ways.   Our support of federal appropriations for key marketing and value-added programs has helped farmers throughout the state.  For example, the USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program provides competitive grants to individual independent agricultural producers, groups of independent producers, producer-controlled entities, organizations representing agricultural producers, and farmer or rancher cooperatives to create or develop value-added producer-owned businesses.

Grants may be used to develop business plans and feasibility studies or for working capital to operate a value-added business venture or alliance.  For three years in a row, Wisconsin has received the highest number of grants and the highest total funding of any state in the nation for the Value Added Producer Grant program.

MFAI also conducts grantwriting workshops around the state.