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Value Added Producer Grant NOFA Announced – Apply Now!

Madison, WI – Last week, the USDA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, which is designed to help producers establish new product lines, expand their marketing reach and exposure, and increase their income. USDA has allocated $10.5 million for the VAPG Program for this round of grants. This NOFA is being released prior to a full-year appropriation for FY2014 and sets maximum grant amounts at $75,000 for planning grants and $200,000 for working capital grants. Grant recipients are also required to provide cash or eligible in-kind matching funds for at least the amount requested. More information can be found at the USDA VAPG website.

Applications are due February 24, 2013

Current VAPG funding criteria prioritize applications from beginning and under-represented farmers/ranchers seeking to delve into new markets and increase the scope of their current operations. For several years, Wisconsin producers have topped the nation in securing these grants, gaining 27 out of 298 (9.1%) total grants awarded in fiscal year 2011, for example.

Iowa County apple producers Deirdre Birmingham and John Biondi, “Chief Executive Orchardist” and “Chief Tractor Officer” respectively, of The Cider Farm near Blanchardville, obtained a VAPG planning grant in 2003 to conduct a feasibility study as well as develop business, operations, and marketing plans for their currently successful hard cider operation. When asked how that VAPG grant supported their business, Birmingham said,

“It helped us do a business plan for our hard cider business and enabled us to get the information to craft that business plan which we continue to update to this day. It really allowed us to do the depth of analysis we wanted. It was very helpful.”

Application assistance: In a different capacity, Deirdre serves as a grant advisor for MFAI, offering assistance to producers looking to apply for grants from the VAPG or other programs. She can be contacted at deirdreb4@gmail.com.

In addition, Wisconsin’s USDA Rural Development office has posted helpful information for applicants on their website: http://1.usa.gov/1cWZJT3

The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture’s VAPG farmer guide also explains the application process in an easy-to-understand format.

MFAI encourages all applicants to get started immediately!