Farms can increase crop value with new USDA grants for Indiana

USDA is making $44 million available to farmers to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Staff Writer

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is making up to $44 million available to farmers, ranchers and businesses to develop new bio-based products and expand markets through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Indiana Rural Development State Director Philip Lehmkuhler said, “Supporting Hoosier farmers and related businesses strengthens rural economies and helps fuel innovation and product development. It’s also an important part of USDA programs that link farmers to their communities, and it underscores the many benefits of local and regional food systems.”
Value-Added Producer Grants may be used to develop new products and create additional uses for existing ones. Priority for these grants is given to veterans, members of socially disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, and operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches. Additional priority is given to applicants who seek funding for projects that will create or increase marketing opportunities for these types of operators.
More information on how to apply is on page 20607 of the April 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due June 24, 2016. Additional information and assistance is available through the USDA Rural Development Office serving your county.
Value-Added Producer Grants are a key element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates the Department’s work to develop local and regional food systems.
Examples of Indiana Value-Added Producer Grant awards from FY 2015 include:
· Goat Milk Stuff in Scottsburg, Ind., received a VAPG grant to expand caramel sales to their online customer base and for working capital funds to pay labor and material costs to produce, package, and label these goat milk caramels.
· Waste No Energy, LLC used VAPG funds to pay consultants to determine the feasibility of harvesting exhaust from an existing digester motor for expanding operations in various ways.
Congress increased funding for the Value-Added program in the 2014 Farm Bill. That law builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
More information on how to apply is on page 20607 of the April 8 Federal Register. The deadline to submit paper applications is July 1. Electronic applications submitted through grants.gov are due June 24. Additional information is also available from your Area Office Specialist or visit the VAPG website where forms and application templates can be accessed: Value-Added Producer Grant program.