USDA extends deadline for value added producer grants

Lincoln, Nebraska, March 26, 2014 -- USDA Rural Development is announcing that the deadline for the Value Added Producer Grant has been extended from February 24, 2014 to April 8, 2014. The primary objective of the VAPG program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program.



Priority points are awarded to beginning farmers or ranchers, veterans, socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, farmer or rancher cooperatives, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the Program Regulation. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

The 2014 farm bill provides veterans with priority points for applications. The purpose of the extension was to provide for implementation of 2014 Farm Bill language which expands the priority designation when awarding grants to eligible independent producers to include Veteran Farmers or Ranchers. Note that this is simply the addition of a new priority category and applicants may qualify for points in only one category. The term 'Veteran Farmer or Rancher' as defined at 7 U.S.C. 1632a(b)(6) means a farmer or rancher who has served in the Armed Forces (as defined in section 101(10) of title 38 United States Code) and who (A) has not operated a farm or ranch; or (B) has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 years.



Please note that (A) does not apply to VAPG because the program requires that the applicant be 'currently' producing at time of application. (B) is the same as the current VAPG Beginning Farmer or Rancher requirement. Since there are no additional points for qualifying as both a Beginning Farmer or Rancher AND a Veteran Farmer or Rancher, no additional documentation is required for applicants who have already applied as a Beginning Farmer or Rancher.



Applicants who apply in response to the Notice of Extension and who wish to apply for points as a Veteran Farmer or Rancher must meet all of the requirements of a Beginning Farmer or Rancher, providing the information requested in Appendix E.1 of the Application Template AND at least one owner/member of the applicant entity must submit form DD-214, Report of Separation from the U.S. Military.



The extended deadline is valid for all applicants, including new applicants (whether or not they apply as a veteran) and applicants who submitted under the old deadline and wish to revise their applications. Maximum grant amount is $75,000 for planning grants and $200,000 for working capital grants. There is a cost sharing requirement for cash or eligible in-kind matching funds equal to at least the amount of grant funds requested.



Grant funds may be used for eligible economic planning activities, or for eligible working capital expenses. Economic planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing of the proposed value-added product.



Eligible working capital expenses include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses directly related to your value-added project, as detailed in the Program Regulation. The grantee cannot use grant funds to purchase property or construct facilities, or to purchase equipment. The Program Regulation provides more information on eligible uses of the grant.



For more information regarding the VAPG program visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG.html

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