Changes have been made to the Value Added Producer Grant Program that will provide additional opportunities to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. The changes, outlined in an interim rule published in the Federal Register, will also assist independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and will support local and regional supply networks. USDA Rural Development is soliciting comments on the interim rule and the best way to facilitate the participation of tribal entities and tribal governments in the Value Added Producer Grant program.
In making the announcement, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said improvements to this popular program will create additional economic and job opportunities by helping owners of small and medium-sized family farms sell their products in local and regional markets, part of the drive to win the future. The changes take effect on March 25, 2011.
These revisions address program changes included in the 2008 Farm Bill and will provide up to 10% funding to beginner farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; provide up to 10% funding to local and/or regional supply networks that link producers with companies marketing their products; give priority for grants to beginner farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and operators of small and medium-sized family farms; and extend grant eligibility to producers who market their products within their state or within a 400 mile radius.