Grant funding available for producers looking to diversify their operations 

Agricultural producers interested in diversifying and taking on a new element to their operation are encouraged to apply for a Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA Rural Development has $37 million in grant funding available for this program in 2020. Individuals and groups of producers can apply for grants up to $75,000 for planning, and $250,000 for implementation and working capital.

The VAPG program was created to assist producers of raw agricultural products with creating minimally-processed goods, such as making cheese from milk or jam from raw berries. To qualify, the physical state of the raw product must change in a way that enhances the market value of the finished product.

Eligible entities include individual independent land owners, groups of agriculture producers, majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, and farmer or rancher cooperatives.

Assisting with diversification since 2000, VAPG is one of the only grant programs offering assistance to producers in diversifying their operations and helping producers strengthen their business model while also lowering their reliance on volatile commodity markets.

The grant application period is open online until March 5 and until March 10 for paper and in-person applicants. Questions about the program should be directed to the applicant’s state USDA Rural Development office. State office information can be found at www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.