Value- Added Producer Grant Program Deadline Nears

The 2008 round of Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) is now underway. According to USDA Rural Development, a total of $18,400,000 will be awarded this year. The VAPG program aims to help eligible farmers and ranchers (as an individual or as a group) develop and pursue viable marketing opportunities. This year, the cap for planning grants is $100,000; and for working capital grants the cap is $300,000. Due date for these grants is March 31, 2008.

The two broad categories of grants are awards for planning activities and working capital (for projects that already have a completed business plan and feasibility study). Planning grants can be used to cost-share the completion of feasibility studies, business plans, marketing studies, certain legal expenses and other organizational costs.

Working capital grants can be used for most operational expenses – including salaries, utility costs, marketing costs, travel expenses, advertising, inventory, office equipment (e.g. computers, printers, copiers, scanners), and office supplies. In general, however, no funds can be used for “brick and mortar,” fixed equipment or vehicles – nor can they be used for production expenses. There is a 50 percent match required – and match can either be in “cash” or “in-kind.”

Specific scoring criteria are identified in detail by the USDA in its Tuesday, January 29, 2008, “Notice of Funds.” If interested in getting a copy of the scoring system, please contact the Mike Heavrin at the Center for Rural Affairs Lyons office or visit the USDA website,
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vapg%20nosa%202008.pdf

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