Competitive Grant Allows Family Farm Business to Expand

Pastures A Plenty has plenty of adventures ahead with the help of a Value Added Producer Grant. USDA provides these competitive grants so farmers and ranchers can expand markets and increase their profitability through value-added agricultural enterprises.

With three generations at work on the farm, Jim Van der Pol, from Pastures A Plenty, is excited. “We first got a VAPG grant several years ago for a business plan,” explained Jim. “That plan led to Pastures a Plenty applying and getting a $300,000 VAPG this time around for working capital.”

Three generations farm at Pastures A Plenty Farm & Co. near Kerkhoven, MN. A value added grant is helping them expand their business and create opportunities for other rural families. Find out more about their operation here.

Jim explains, “This grant wasn’t for the farm. It’s for the business to be more effective and move forward in three really exciting ways.” Specific plans include:

  1. Researching and communicating with contacts in their markets. This will allow them to “sell more completely across the carcass.” For example, selling and using lard.
  2. Improving business equipment and systems. With networked computers and added online inventory systems, Pastures A Plenty can make better business decisions. Specific, exact inventory and improved in-house communications will help.
  3. Developing a circle of farms and farmers to produce hogs according to Pastures’ protocol, using their genetics (hogs that have been proven to do well in a pasture-based system). The family doesn’t want to push their farm past what the land can sustainably support, but they want to keep up with their markets.

This means more business in their community. They buy corn from neighbors, and they will be working with farmers to raise more hogs on a pasture system to support their market’s demand for pork. This is a huge benefit for all the supporting businesses a farm needs.

Horizons are expanding beyond the three generations of family working on the farm and meat business. With this grant, the folks at Pastures A Plenty are opening even more opportunities for other families to stay in their rural community.

Contact me, Inga Haugen, at ingah@cfra.org or 402.687.2100 if you have questions or comments.