#1 – The USDA Value-Added Producer Grant is Out!

Written by Jim Gage

Jim Gage is a long-time value-added agricultural business strategist.  He has assisted more than 100 clients with VAPG clients since 2005 and will be providing guidance to applicants as part of a blog throughout the 60-day writing period.  Gage is also working with the University of Wisconsin Food Finance Institute to conduct two half-day “Boot Camps” on writing the VAPG.  Thanks also to the consulting group Sustaining Farmers and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for their support of this effort.  The efforts of USDA VAPG desk officers across the country to answer questions over the next 60-days are also very much appreciated.

The USDA Rural Development office announced Notice of Funding Availability (NOSA) last week.  This annual grant program has been used by thousands of rural entrepreneurs over its 15+ year history, and I have had the pleasure (and challenge) of being involved in the application process with many clients. 

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has summarized the specifics of the 2022 version of the VAPG at Value-Added Producer Grants Are Now Open – National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  Also see Value-Added Producer Grants | Rural Development (usda.gov) for the USDA rules, paperwork, and application for the grant.

I am working with Food Finance Institute over the next two months to help guide farm applicants and their teams through the grant writing process.  Later this week, we will release a video “Tool-Kit Walk Through” to help agricultural entrepreneurs with a page-by-page review of the 47-page working capital application.  Our next blog will release the remaining schedule for additional webinars, one-on-one consulting “office hours” and additional materials.

Last thoughts for those that are new to this grant – below we suggest a few starting points for understanding the VAPG:

  • USDA website – we suggest that you print out the forms and toolkits –the printed toolkit will be useful as a guide to the aforementioned “walk-through”. 
  • The National Sustainable Agriculture mentioned above also has a “Farmer’s Guide to Applying for the Value Added Producers Grant” which will help simplify some of the more difficult concepts.  The guide also provides excellent examples for the new applicant. See 2022-NSAC-VAPG-Farmers-Guide.pdf (sustainableagriculture.net)
  • Finally, it may help to find out who else has been awarded a VAPG in your region or state.  What was their experience with writing the grant, and did it help them advance their business?

I wish you luck over the next two months of writing and look forward to helping you with your VAPG.


Jim Gage