Agricultural producers applying for value-added producer grants from USDA can find resources to assist them to make sure they apply correctly and increase their chances of getting the grant. That help is available through the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The value-added producer grant program is a competitive program administered by USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Service. The latest round of grant funding was announced in the Federal Register Nov. 23, 2013.
AgMRC is a virtual library of agricultural value-added opportunities, business development and consulting resources for producers, located at the AgMRC website.
"There is a direct link on the home page of the site to take producers directly to a dedicated page on value-added producer grants with the federal notice of funding available, grant templates and a directory of state USDA rural development offices," says Ray Hansen, director of the center at ISU at Ames. "Additionally, our AgMRC staff has created new Web-based training tools to explain the VAPG program and resources for producers to develop their business or find new market opportunities for an existing business."
New Web-based training tools explain the value-added grant program and resources for producers
Producers can investigate specific commodity information on many different niche opportunities and can locate specific laws, consultants and individual contacts within their individual state to assist them in the grant application process.
USDA announced the availability of $10.5 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2013 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Two types of grant funding are available: planning grants and working capital grants. Planning grants can be used for feasibility studies, business plans and marketing analysis studies. The maximum planning grant is $75,000. Maximum working capital grants are $200,000.
Value-added products are defined as follows
- A change in the physical state or form of the product (such as milling wheat into flour or making strawberries into jam)
- The production of a product in a manner that enhances its value, as demonstrated through a business plan (such as organically produced products)
- The physical segregation of an agricultural commodity or product in a manner that results in the enhancement of the value of that commodity or product (such as an identity preserved marketing system)
Value-added also includes using any agricultural product or commodity to produce renewable energy on a farm or ranch or food produced and marketed locally.
Applications must be completed and submitted to the state USDA Rural Development office no later than Feb. 24, 2014. Located at Iowa State University in Ames, AgMRC is a national center for value-added agriculture resources. For more information, visit the AgMRC website or USDA Rural Development website.