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Grants >> USDA Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) FAQs

Q. What is ‘Value-Added’ and what are ‘VAPG grants’?
The term “value-added” includes any agricultural commodity or product that has undergone a change in physical state or was produced, marketed, or segregated (i.e., identity-preserved, eco-labeling) in a manner that enhances its value or expands the customer base of the product. Examples include milk produced on the farm which is then processed into cheese or beef which has been specially raised on the farm and is then processed into cuts which are branded and marketed as specialty beef. VAPG grants help qualified producers plan, develop and grow their value-added businesses which bring jobs and revenue to the farm.

Q. How can I tell if I am eligible to apply for a VAPG grant? According to the USDA, you must meet the requirements of one of the following applicant types: Independent Producer, Agricultural Producer Group, Farmer or Rancher Cooperative, or Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Business Venture. Eligible producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and fishermen that engage in the production or harvesting of an agricultural commodity. Please feel free to contact us at Origin Farms to discuss your eligibility for a VAPG grant.

Q: What types of USDA VAPG grants are available?
VAPG grants can be either planning grants or working capital grants. The 2012 round of awardees includes 62 planning grants and 236 working capital grants.

• With planning grants, funds must be used for eligible economic planning activities. Economic planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing of the proposed value-added product.
• With working capital grants, funds must be spent on eligible working capital expenses including processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and may include some inventory and salary expenses directly related to your value-added project. VAPG funds cannot be used to purchase equipment or property or to construct facilities.

Q. How much money could I receive from a VAPG grant? Maximum awards per project are as follows:
• Planning grants: $100,000;
• Working capital grants: $300,000

Q. What’s involved in the VAPG grant application process?
The VAPG grant application process is a rather complex one, and the paperwork can be quite extensive, although there is a simplified application for projects requesting less than $50,000. A typical working grant includes documentation of farm ownership, product/project qualifications, detailed financial reporting and must include copies of existing feasibility studies and business plans. Origin Farms can provide complete grant-writing services for producers who wish to apply for a VAPG grant.

Q. I am a beginning and/or ‘socially disadvantaged’ farmer. And what about small to medium-sized Family farmers? Are there special criteria for me?
The USDA prioritizes projects that increase opportunities for beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, or owners of small and medium-sized family farms. Additional grading points are added to applications who service farmers in these groups. Reserve funds have been set-aside for projects funding beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Talk to us at Origin Farms Consulting for more specifics on the criteria for these categories.

Q. Are there matching funds requirements?
VAPG grants require that grant funds be matched on a one for one basis. Matching does not just have to be in cash, but can be in the form of an eligible ‘in-kind’ contribution. Origin Farms can work with you to set up a plan for matching funds.

Q. What is the deadline for submitting 2013 VAPG Grants?
As of today, the application deadline has not been announced for the 2013 VAPG grants. While the date may be weeks away, it is never too early to start the planning process and the data-gathering necessary to submit a successful grant application. Contact Origin Farms Consulting to get the ball rolling.


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