Applications Now Open for Two Important Farm & Ranch Programs

The US Department of Agriculture announced two important program opportunities for farmers and ranchers. They are the Conservation Stewardship Program (now open until Feb 7, 2014) and the Value Added Producer Grant Program (open until Feb 24, 2014).

Conservation Stewardship Program
Farmers, ranchers, and foresters have until February 3 to submit applications to their local Natural Resources Conservation Service. The original deadline was January 17, and we successfully pushed for the extension!

The CSP rewards farmers, ranchers, and foresters for maintaining existing conservation practices and adopting additional practices on cropland, grassland, non-industrial private forestland, and tribal lands. The program helps producers foster clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency, and provide other natural resource benefits.

By 2013, CSP reached over 60 million acres enrolled nationally. CSP is one of the most popular and effective conservation programs. We continue to fight hard to protect threats to this funding in the current farm bill and appropriations debates in Congress.

Value Added Producer Grant Program
USDA has $10.5 million available to fund grants to develop value-added agricultural businesses. There is a priority for funding proposals from socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and small- to mid-size family farms and ranches. Ten percent of funding is reserved specifically for beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. February 24 is the deadline to submit a proposal to USDA Rural Development.

For over a decade, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made Value Added Producer Grants to assist farmers and ranchers in starting and expanding ventures that increase the value of raw farm and ranch products. These ventures include both niche marketing - local, natural, grass-fed, organic, etc. – and processing of crops, produce, or livestock.

Farmers and ranchers interested in these programs can call our Farm Bill Helpline to learn more, and to share their experience with either program by calling 402.687.2103 or emailing me at