Nearly $10.5 million in grant money is available to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities designed to give them a competitive edge.
The funding is being made available through the Value-Added Producer Grant program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Grants are available to help ag producers create new products, expand marketing opportunities, support further processing of existing products or goods or to develop specialty and niche products.
The money may be used for working capital and planning activities. The maximum working capital grant is $200,000; the maximum planning grant is $75,000.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and agricultural producer groups. Funding priority is given to socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers or ranchers, and to small- to medium-size family farms, or farmer/rancher cooperatives.
Rural Development is encouraging applications from American Indian organizations as well as applications that support regional food hubs. Applications supporting value-added activities related to bio-based products are also encouraged.
Examples of how value-added activities assist food producers are shown on the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website.
Contact any USDA Rural Development state office for more information on how to apply. Application materials are available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html