USDA seeks applications for grants

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this month announced that USDA is making up to $44 million available to farmers, ranchers and businesses to develop new products through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.

In 2015, the USDA Rural Development office in Virginia awarded more than $3.9 million to producers in 25 Virginia localities through 30 Value-Added Producer Grants.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and rural business owners are innovative entrepreneurs and this program helps them grow economic opportunities for their families and communities by increasing the value of the things they produce,” Vilsack said. “The Value-Added Producer Grant program has a great track record of helping producers increase the value of products and expand their markets and customer base.”

The Value-Added Producer Grant program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. The goals of the program are to facilitate funding to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and to increase producer income.

Examples of Value-Added Producer Grant awards from 2015 include:

• Kelly Turkeys USA in Crozet received $250,000 to support expanded production through the hiring of a general manager and seasonal labor, and the purchase of packaging supplies. Funds were also used to enhance marketing efforts through development of promotional materials and support of in-person promotional visits.

• Cullipher Farm in Virginia Beach received a $200,000 grant to expand its working capital to assist with the purchase of general supplies and inventory as the farm increased its production and product sales.

“It is important to have funds available to meet the needs of Virginia producers who seek to enter into value-added activities and/or expand their working capital,” said Basil Gooden, Ph.D., Virginia State Director, USDA Rural Development. “The Value-Added Producer Grant is a fundamental program that helps to grow economies and develop regional food systems in rural Virginia.”

Value-Added Producer Grants are awarded through a national competition. An applicant may receive priority as a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or if proposing a mid-tier value chain.

Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on

The deadline to submit paper applications is Friday, July 1. Electronic applications submitted through are due Friday, June 24.