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Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program

Grants to USA Agricultural Businesses to Develop
and Market Value-Added Agricultural Products

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Rural Development

Deadline Date:

01/24/18 Midnight Electronic Receipt via; or postmarked or received by close of business on 01/31/18


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Grants to USA agricultural producers, producer groups, farm and ranch cooperatives, and other producer-based businesses for value-added activities to improve the marketing and processing of new products. Applicants are advised to begin the necessary registrations at least one month prior to the deadline.

The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Applicants may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on

Grant and matching funds can be used for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product. Examples of planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing the proposed value-added product. Examples of working capital expenses include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses.

Program Description:

The objective of this grant program is to assist viable Independent Producers, Agricultural Producer Groups, Farmer and Rancher Cooperatives, and Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Businesses in starting or expanding value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of Value- Added Agricultural Products. Grants will be awarded competitively for either planning or working capital projects directly 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 the program. All proposals must demonstrate economic viability and sustainability in order to compete for funding.

Funding priority will be made available to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Veteran Farmers and Ranchers, Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, Operators of Small and Medium-Sized Farms and Ranches structured as Family Farms or Ranches, Farmer or Rancher Cooperatives, and projects proposing to develop a Mid-Tier Value Chain. See 7 CFR 4284.923 for Reserved Funds eligibility and 7 CFR 4284.924 for Priority Scoring eligibility.

Reservation of Funds:

Ten percent of available funds for applications will be reserved for applications submitted by Beginning and Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers or Ranchers, and an additional ten percent of available funds for applications from farmers or ranchers proposing development of Mid-Tier Value Chains. Reserved funds not obligated prior to June 30, 2018, will be used for the VAPG general competition. If this is the case, Beginning and Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers or Ranchers and applicants proposing Mid-Tier Value Chains will compete with other eligible VAPG applications. In addition, in accordance with Title VII, Section 750 of Public Law 115–30, 10% of FY 2017 funds will be allocated for assistance in persistent poverty counties. Any funds that become available after publishing this notice that will be allocated for assistance in persistent poverty counties will be identified by the Agency at a later date, after the applicable appropriations language has been enacted.

Project Eligibility:

You must demonstrate within the application narrative that you meet all the project eligibility requirements of 7 CFR 4284.922.

(a) Product eligibility. Applicants for both planning and working capital grants must meet all requirements at 7 CFR 4284.922(a), including that your value-added product must result from one of the five methodologies identified in the definition of Value-Added Agricultural Product at 7 CFR 4284.902. In addition, you must demonstrate that, as a result of the project, the customer base for the agricultural commodity or value-added product will be expanded, by including a baseline of current customers for the commodity, and an estimated target number of customers that will result from the project; and that, a greater portion of the revenue derived from the marketing or processing of the value-added product is available to the applicant producer(s) of the agricultural commodity, by including a baseline of current revenues from the sale of the agricultural commodity and an estimate of increased revenues that will result from the project.

(b) Purpose eligibility. Applicants for both planning and working capital grants must meet all requirements at 7 CFR 4284.922(b) regarding maximum grant amounts, verification of matching funds, eligible and ineligible uses of grant and matching funds, a substantive work plan and budget.

(i) Planning Grants. A planning grant is used to fund development of a defined program of economic planning activities to determine the viability of a potential value-added venture, and specifically for the purpose of paying for a qualified consultant to conduct and develop a feasibility study, business plan, and/or marketing plan associated with the processing and/or marketing of a value-added agricultural product. Planning grant funds may not be used to fund working capital activities.

(ii) Working Capital Grants. This type of grant provides funds to operate a value-added project, specifically to pay the eligible project expenses directly related to the processing and/or marketing of the value-added product that are eligible uses of grant funds. Working capital funds may not be used for planning purposes.

(c) Reserved Funds Eligibility. To qualify for Reserved Funds as a Beginning or Socially-Disadvantaged Farmer or Rancher or if you propose to develop a Mid-Tier Value Chain, you must meet the requirements found at 7 CFR 4284.923. If your application is eligible, but is not awarded under the Reserved Funds, it will automatically be considered for general funds in that same fiscal year, as funding levels permit.

(d) Priority Points. To qualify for Priority Points for projects that contribute to increasing opportunities for Beginning Farmers or Ranchers, Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers or Ranchers, or if you are an Operator of a Small or Medium-sized Farm or Ranch structured as a Family Farm, a Veteran Farmer or Rancher, propose a Mid-Tier Value Chain project, or are a Farmer or Rancher Cooperative, you must meet the applicable eligibility requirements at 7 CFR 4284.923 and 4284.924 and must address the relevant proposal evaluation criterion.

Priority points will also be awarded during the scoring process to eligible Agricultural Producer Groups, Farmer or Rancher Cooperatives, and Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Business Ventures that best contribute to creating or increasing marketing opportunities for Beginning Farmers or Ranchers, Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers or Ranchers, and/or Veteran Farmers or Ranchers. You must meet the eligibility requirements at 7 CFR 4284.923 and 4284.924 and must address the relevant proposal evaluation criterion.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 172471

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Expected Number of Awards: 200

Estimated Size of Grant:

Maximum Grant Amount: Planning Grants $75,000; Working Capital Grants: $250,000.

Term of Contract:

Project Period: Up to 36 months depending on the complexity of the project.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, as defined in the program regulation are eligible to apply for this program.

Representations Regarding Felony Conviction and Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants:

A corporation is any entity that has filed articles of incorporation in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the various territories of the United States including American Samoa, Guam, Midway Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Corporations include both for profit and nonprofit entities.

Eligibility Information:

Applicants must comply with the program regulation 7 CFR part 4284 subpart J in order to meet all of the following eligibility requirements. Required documentation is included in the application package. Applications which fail to meet any of these requirements by the application deadline will be deemed ineligible and will not be evaluated further.

Eligible Applicants:

You must demonstrate within the application narrative that you meet all the applicant eligibility requirements of 7 CFR 4284.920 and 4284.921. This includes meeting the definition requirements at 7 CFR 4284.902 for one of the following applicant types: Independent Producer, Agricultural Producer Group, Farmer or Rancher Cooperative or Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Business and also meeting the Emerging Market, Citizenship, Legal Authority and Responsibility, Multiple Grants and Active Grants requirements of the section. Required documentation to support eligibility is contained at 7 CFR 4284.931 and in the application package.

Federally-recognized Tribes and tribal entities must demonstrate that they meet the definition requirements for one of the four eligible applicant types. Rural Development State Offices and posted application toolkits will provide additional information on Tribal eligibility.

Per 4284.921, an applicant is ineligible if they have been debarred or suspended or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for participation in Federal assistance programs under Executive Order 12549, ‘‘Debarment and Suspension.’’ In addition, an applicant will be considered ineligible for a grant due to an outstanding judgment obtained by the U.S. in a Federal Court (other than U.S. Tax Court), is delinquent on the payment of Federal income taxes, or is delinquent on Federal debt.

Per 4284.905(a), Applicants must comply with other applicable Federal laws. Applicants who are proposing working capital grants to produce and market value-added products in the industries of wine, beer, distilled spirits or other alcoholic merchandise must comply with Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulations, including but not limited to permitting, filing of taxes and operational reports. If you are not in compliance with TTB’s requirements, the Agency may determine that you are not qualified to receive a Federal award and use that determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant. If, at any time after you have already received a VAPG award, you are found to be in noncompliance with TTB’s operational reporting or tax requirements, the Agency may determine that you are not in compliance with your grant terms and conditions.

An Applicant may submit only one application in response to a solicitation, and must explicitly direct that it compete in either the general funds competition or in one of the named reserved funds competitions. Multiple applications from separate entities with identical or greater than 75 percent common ownership, or from a parent, subsidiary or affiliated organization (with ‘‘affiliation’’ defined by Small Business Administration regulation 13 CFR 121.103, or successor regulation) are not permitted. Further, Applicants who have already received a Planning Grant for the proposed project cannot receive another Planning Grant for the same project. Applicants who have already received a Working Capital Grant for the proposed project cannot receive any additional grants for that project (Proposals from previous award recipients should be substantially different in terms of products and/or markets and should not merely be extensions of previously funded projects).

Ineligible Uses of Grant and Matching Funds:

Federal procurement standards prohibit transactions that involve a real or apparent Conflict of Interest for owners, employees, officers, agents, or their Immediate Family members having a personal, professional, financial or other interest in the outcome of the project; including organizational conflicts, and conflicts that restrict open and free competition for unrestrained trade. A list (not all-inclusive) of ineligible uses of grant and matching funds is found in 7 CFR 4284.926.

Pre-Application Information:

There is a matching fund (cost-sharing) requirement of at least $1 for every $1 in grant funds provided by the Agency (matching funds plus grant funds must equal proposed Total Project Cost). Matching funds may be in the form of cash or eligible in-kind contributions. Matching funds must be available at time of application and must be certified and verified as described in 7 CFR 4284.931(b)(3) and (4).

You should contact your USDA Rural Development State Office if you have questions about eligibility or submission requirements. You are encouraged to contact your State Office well in advance of the application deadline to discuss your project and to ask any questions about the application process.

You must request a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number if your organization doesn’t already have one. It should not take more than a few business days to get your number. However, you should plan on requesting it at least a month before the application deadline because you’ll need that number for the next pre-application step.

Register your organization with the System for Award Management (SAM) if you aren’t already registered. The registration is free, but you need to complete several steps. It’s a good idea to start the registration process at least a month before any application deadline.

You must submit your application by January 31, 2018 or it will not be considered for funding. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped or sent overnight by this date. You may also hand carry your application to one of the field offices, but it must be received by close of business on the deadline date.

Electronic applications are permitted via only, and must be received before midnight January 24, 2018.

The anticipated award date is May 31, 2018.

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

This program is administered by the State Office. State Office contact information may be found here:

Shantelle Gordon, Management Analyst Phone

Grants Division
Cooperative Programs
Rural Business-Cooperative Service
United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW.
MS 3253, Room 4008-South
Washington, DC 20250-3253

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Geographic Focus:

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USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)