USDA announces $25M to turn commodities into value-added products

farm-droughtAgriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted the importance of rural entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy and announced investments to help rural businesses grow, diversify and create jobs. USDA is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and create new products to market, Secretary Vilsack said today during a visit to Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, N.H.

The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.  The program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.

“The funding we are announcing today will have far-reaching, positive impacts in rural communities across the country,” Vilsack said.  “The investments will help businesses create new products, expand their operations, and support local and regional food systems. The new Farm Bill expands this program to provide even more of these opportunities.”

Since 2009, USDA has awarded 863 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $108 million. More than 20 percent of the grants and more than 15 percent of total funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for the program from $15 million to $63 million over five years (along with authorizing another $40 million in discretionary spending).

The grants can be used for a wide range of purposes.  They can support local and regional food systems, further the development of the growing bioeconomy, and finance the distribution of local and regional products.

For example, Miles Smith Farm LLC in Loudon, N.H., has been selected for a $127,732 Value-Added Producer Grant to market and produce burgers made from 55 percent grass-fed beef and 45 percent organically raised pork. By mixing ground pork with extra-lean, grass-fed ground beef, the farm can produce a burger with the ideal fat and flavor levels that grass-fed ground beef does not have alone.  Miles Smith Farm’s owner calls the mix “the burger that squeals with flavor.” Value-Added Producer Grants often help business develop markets for niche and specialty products.

In neighboring Vermont, North Hollow Farm LLC, in Rochester, is receiving a $161,204 grant to expand processing and marketing of grass-fed beef and natural meats.  Sweet Rowen Farmstead LLC, in West Glover, Vt., is being selected for a $24,661 grant to develop nutrition labels for its cheese products.

FarmieMarket Online LLC in Rensselaerville, N.Y., has been selected for a $24,490 grant to expand its online presence for 16 small farmers who produce a broad range of fresh foods that are aggregated and sold online, expanding their customer base.

Value-Added Producer Grants are an element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems.  Previous Value-Added Producer Grants supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass.

USDA is awarding Value-Added Producer Grants in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia.  A full list of recipients is available here.  Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

The announcement of today’s funding was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger.  Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.



augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.