New “Farmers Guide” Helps Producers Apply for Grants



New “Farmers Guide” Helps Producers Apply for Value Added Producer Grants

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has published this free resource annually since 2012

hay field

Washington, DC, April 13, 2016 – Today, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) announced the publication of their annual Farmers’ Guide to Value-Added Producer Grant Funding (“Farmers’ Guide”), a comprehensive overview of the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) that educates farmers about the program’s uses and helps them to prepare successful funding applications.

Administered by USDA Rural Development, VAPG provides competitive grants to help farmers and ranchers take their businesses to the next level by transforming raw goods into higher-value processed products like flour, cheese, or sauces/spreads, by innovative marketing of inherently higher value products like organic or grass-fed, or by linking through food hubs or other supply chain networks to local and regional food markets. The grants can be used for working capital, feasibility studies, business plans, and marketing efforts.

As announced by USDA last week, up to $44 million in funding will be available for fiscal year (FY) 2016, a historic high for the program. Up to $75,000 is available for planning grants and up to $250,000 is available for implementation grants.

“VAPG helps farmers increase their incomes and create new marketing opportunities for their products, which in turn supports the local economy by creating more jobs,” said Wes King, Policy Specialist at NSAC. “Since its inception, the program has helped thousands of producers grow their businesses by doing things like developing supply networks to turn wheat into flour for local millers and bakers. It also helps them promote their businesses through farm-identified marketing, like the “Homegrown by Heroes” label, which helps veteran farmers tell the story behind their products.”

horses eating grass

Recognizing that applying for federal grants can be challenging, even for professional grant-writers, NSAC has been issuing updated versions of their Farmers’ Guide for the last four years.

First released in 2012, the Farmers’ Guide is available as a free resource, downloadable online via the NSAC website. The guide provides everything farmers and potential applicants might want to know about VAPG, including: project eligibility and examples of previously awarded projects, proposal types and requirements, an application scoring outline, program history, and an application timeline and checklist.

“At a time when commodity prices are slumping, exploring value-added opportunities can be a path to a more rewarding and sustainable future,’ said King. “Farmers can increase their share of the consumer food dollar by moving into marketing channels that reward innovation and quality, rather than undifferentiated raw commodities. We hope our updated guide will help farmers navigate the program and submit successful applications.”

The deadline to submit paper applications for VAPG is July 1, while electronic applications are due June 24 through In addition to NSAC’s Farmers’ Guide, more information, including application details, is available on the USDA VAPG webpage.


About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more: