Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG)
Max award: $300,000 for working capital; $100,000 for planning - matching resources are required
Big idea: Value-added processing and marketing helps farmers and ranchers receive a higher portion of the retail dollar. Value-Added Producer Grants support planning activities, such as developing a business plan, as well as working capital. Specific funds are available for projects that focus on local and regional supply networks or support beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and small or medium-sized farms or ranches.
Who can apply: Independent producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and producer-owned business ventures, including non-profit organizations
Possibilities: Grants may fund projects that:
- Create a business plan to market value-added products;
- Evaluate the feasibility of direct marketing freshly bottled milk;
- Evaluate the financial benefits of processing and marketing meat versus selling live animals;
- Expand marketing capacity for locally- and regionally-grown products;
- Expand processing capacity
Real example: Steve Pinnow raises sheep on his southeastern Wisconsin farm, Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms. When he identified a market for freshly slaughtered lamb, he ran into an immediate problem: the only places to process the lambs he raised were so busy that he would have to schedule his processing two months in advance. Fortunately, with a Value-Added Producer Grant of $150,000, Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms was able to build a processing plant on its five-acre homestead. Opened in January 2009, the plant processes between 40 and 50 lambs a week and employs six full-time workers, and Steve now contracts with 30 producers around the state to provide him lambs.