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USDA: $35m to help agricultural producers, rural small businesses develop and market new products

Christian Fernsby |
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is making an additional $35 million available nationwide through the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program to support agricultural producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Topics: USDA   

This funding is authorized through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. In total, $76 million in grants is now available nationwide to help farmers, ranchers, and producer-based rural small businesses develop new products and expand marketing opportunities.

USDA is also extending the application deadline until April 29, 2021, for online applications and to May 4, 2021, for applications submitted to the state office. USDA originally opened the application window on Dec. 21, 2020, with an application due date of March 22, 2021.

The amended notice also reduces the matching requirement to 10 percent of the grant amount for applicants competing for the $35 million in COVID-19 relief funding.

You are not required to demonstrate how your business operations were impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic. Relief funds will be awarded based on the application's scoring until the funds are exhausted.

If your application for COVID–19 relief funds is not selected through the competitive process and your application scores 50 points or above, you will have the opportunity to compete for the additional $41 million in funding that is available this year.

The grants may be used to develop new products from raw agricultural products or to expand marketing opportunities for value-added products.

Applicants proposing projects related to the production, procurement, or marketing of hemp must have a valid license from an approved state, tribal, or federal plan pursuant to Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill, be in compliance with regulations published by the Agricultural Marketing Service in 7 CFR Part 990, and meet any applicable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulatory requirements.

Independent producers, agricultural operators, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

Electronic applications must be submitted to by 8:59 pm PST on April 29, 2021. Applications may also be emailed or mailed to the state office where the project is located. The applications must be submitted by 4:30 pm PST on May 4, 2021.

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