The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking farmers and producers interested in turning their agricultural commodities into new products. The USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant program provides farmers with up to $250,000 in working capital or feasibility funding to turn raw agricultural products into finished products that increase producer profitability and create jobs. The deadline for grant submissions is July 7.

“USDA Rural Development wants to help farmers capture a larger share of the growing local food movement,” said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. “The Value Added Producer Grant Program helps farmers do just that by providing grant funds to help turn things like apples into pie, milk into yogurt, meats into sausage or berries into jam.”

Brady announced that a new promotional video inviting Vermont and New Hampshire producers to apply for the Value Added Producer Grant program was published. The video features successful USDA clients, including 2012 Value-Added Producer Grant recipient Green Mountain Organic Dairy, which opened Kimball Brook Farms Creamery in Hinesburg with the help of the grant.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that more than $30 million would be available nationwide for the grant program. Brady noted that the funding available this year increased from FY14 thanks to Congressional support from Vermont and New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation in the 2014 Farm Bill.  Brady said he hoped this would encourage more producers in Vermont and New Hampshire to apply.

Last year, USDA Rural Development awarded more than $500,000 to Vermont and New Hampshire producers through the Value-Added Producer Grant program:

-Sweet Rowen Farmstead, West Glover, Vermont:  $24,661 to help pay for food safety consulting, food labeling consulting and the development of nutritional labels for their on-farm bottled milk.
North Hollow Farm, Rochester, Vermont:  $161,204 to help the farm cover operating costs of increasing expenses associated with increased production of livestock.
Miles Smith Farm, Loudon, New Hampshire:  $127,732 to provide working capital to produce and distribute fresh, organic, grass-fed beef and pork mix burgers.
East Shore Vineyard, Grand Isle, Vermont:  $244,913 to improve marketing, promotion, advertising, and packaging of East Shore Vineyard wines.