It’s that time of the year again: taxes are due, seedlings are almost ready for planting, goat kids are being born, and USDA just dropped its Notice of Solicitation of Applications for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPGs).
For our readers not familiar with VAPGs, they are an excellent way for farms to boost their capital. These grants open doors for new projects by providing farm-businesses with the funds to expand their current markets or enter into new ones, thereby increasing financial returns going forward. For example, Farmer Abby might currently sell their greens wholesale to a local co-op. But with a VAPG, they can expand their production and turn their greens into grab-and-go salads, opening up an entirely new revenue stream.
In the agriculture world, the term “value-added” simply implies transforming a raw agricultural product into something else. This could be through packaging, processing, cooling, drying, extraction, or any other type of process that differentiates the new product from the original raw product. Charcuterie always comes to mind, along with pickles, parmesan, and pesto. More specifically, value-adding can mean turning cucumbers into pickles, cow’s milk into cheese, wheat into flour, sap into syrup, corn into fuel, and so on.
There is a lot more to the VAPG program and value-added products, so if you’d like to learn more, start here. Know a farmer applying? Maybe you could help them by providing a letter of support, so reach out!
The VAPG is an incredibly competitive grant, and it usually takes a team of people to craft a proposal that will surely be close to 100 pages long, if not longer. Applicants typically spend a minimum of 100 hours to complete their proposal. Bust out the coffee!
This year, the total amount of award funding is lower compared to 2021, making the grant that much more competitive. But don’t stress too much yet. We have once again teamed up with Jim Gage of JDG Consulting to guide farmers in writing one of these beastly grant proposals. Check out our VAPG blog series, 10-person boot camp, and other resources on our VAPG Resources landing page. Jim has 15 years of VAPG writing under his belt—and all 70 applications he’s worked on have been funded!
Unfortunately, the April 25 deadline to submit an online application is less than 40 days away, while the May 2 deadline for paper applications sent via snail mail is under 50 days away. To get you started and heading toward success, check out our 2021 VAPG webinar, chockfull of tips still relevant for this year.
Also, tomorrow the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is hosting a webinar with folks from the USDA to help prospective applicants learn more about the program, no registration required:
March 18 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern
- Join on your computer or Microsoft Teams mobile app: CLICK HERE TO JOIN!
- Or call in (audio only) at +1 202-650-0123
- Phone Conference ID: 382 510 478#
Farming is a labor of love, but grant writing is another realm… Best of luck to those writing a proposal!
And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…
Business Model Insights
- How HR can change company culture to drive innovation within the food industry (Food & Beverage Insider)
Today’s food industry needs to evolve beyond old leadership structures and dated hiring tactics to move forward in a way that supports innovation.
- Six Ways to Attract and Retain Employees with Effective Training (Food Industry Executive)
- Preventing Foodborne Infection at the Source (Food Manufacturing)
- Mandatory ESG Reporting Standards Will Be the Most Important Development Ever for Organic (Organic Insider)
With sustainability information increasingly integral to investors’ decision-making process, the implementation of a high-quality, globally comparable framework for assessing such data will be significant.
- Breaking down gender biases in VC investment and beyond (Just Food)
- USDA Updates Farm Loan Programs to Increase Equity (USDA Farm Services Agency)
- Ensuring consumer trust requires brands to take several extra steps (New Hope Network)
Many food companies, particularly in the natural space, are bypassing the traditional supply chain in favor of creating relationships with farmers, eliminating middlemen and empowering the people behind their labels.
- Can’t Afford a Super Bowl Ad? Here’s the Playbook for Smaller CPG Brands (IRI Blog)
- As inflation surges, retailers & manufacturers need new strategies to earn consumer loyalty (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Why Are Private Label Products Not Thriving Amidst Inflation? (The Food Institute)
Shoppers have historically gravitated to store brands when economic times get tough. But despite record-high prices, private label food and beverage sales continue to dip below their national counterparts at retail.
- 2022 health and wellness trends for conscious consumers (Food & Beverage Insider)
- Meat dollar sales reach record high in 2021, but volume is down (Supermarket News)
Farming and AgTech
- Soil-friendly practices produce healthier food (Food & Beverage Insider)
While the positive environmental impacts of regenerative agriculture are well documented, new research indicates that such practices may offer a secondary benefit: more nutrient-dense food.
- Broad agriculture coalition files federal complaint against John Deere, demanding the right to repair their own tractors (The Counter)
- Soil Proof: The Plan to Quantify Regenerative Agriculture (Civil Eats)
- Riviana Foods to acquire InHarvest (Baking Business)
Minnesota-based InHarvest specializes in the production, marketing and sale of premium specialty rice, quinoa and grains for the foodservice, industrial and retail sectors.
- Big Bold Health attracts $4 million in funding from prominent food tech venture capital firm (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Kraft Heinz forms venture with alt-protein firm NotCo (Just Food)
- Edible-Alpha® MVP Series Workshop: Marketing & Branding Planning: 3/17
- PLMA Global: Online Private Label Trade Show: 3/28–3/31
- FFI April Quarterly Trends Talk: 4/11
- Nutrition Capital Network Spring Investor Meeting: 4/19–4/20 (hybrid event)
- Edible-Alpha® Immersion Training: Scenario Planning: 5/1–5/11
- Edible-Alpha® MVP Series Workshop: Operations & Organization Planning: 5/12
- PACK EXPO East: 3/21–3/23 in Philadelphia, PA
- SIAL America: Inspire Food Business: 3/22–3/24 in Las Vegas, NV
- Midwest Poultry Federation Convention: 3/22–3/24 in Minneapolis, MN
- Global Pet Expo: 3/23–3/25 in Orlando, FL
- SNX 2022: SNAC International Education and Collaboration Forum: 3/27–3/29 in Phoenix, AZ
- American Bakers Association Annual Conference: 3/27–3/30 in Palm Springs, CA
- 10th American Food Sure Conference: 3/29–3/30 in Chicago, IL
- Soil Health Academy School: Cropping Success Through Regenerative Ag: 3/29–3/31 in Kenansville, NC
- Specialty Coffee Expo: 4/8–4/9 in Boston, MA
- SupplySide East: 4/12–4/13 in Secaucus, NJ
- Nutrition Capital Network Spring Investor Meeting: 4/19–4/20 in New York, NY
- Petfood Forum: 5/2–5/4 in Kansas City, MO
- Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America: 5/2–5/5 in Minneapolis, MN
- Food Safety Summit: 5/9–5/12 in Rosemont, IL
- Soil Health Academy School: Adaptive Grazing with Multiple Species: 5/17–5/19 in Uniontown, AL
- National Restaurant Association Show: 5/21–5/24 in Chicago, IL
- Sweets & Snacks Expo: 5/23–5/26 in Chicago, IL
- Soil Health Academy School: Grazing for Profit & Regeneration: 5/31–6/2 in Cimarron, NM