Learn about the Value Added Producer Grants sponsored by the USDA.
Fruits, vegetables and nuts aren’t the only things growing on farms. Many cooperatives are seeing their businesses grow as well, as they develop their basic crops into innovative products like sliced, seasoned and packaged almonds for sale with salad dressings and seasonings. Other imaginative products emerging from co-op ventures include fresh-cut packaged fruit sold through school lunch programs and premium cotton bath towels.
A number of these ideas have been brought to market with the help of Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) sponsored by the USDA. This year, 19 farm cooperatives will use their share of $22.5 million in VAPG grants to create new products, packaging and programs. The grants fall under the Rural Development section of the 2002 Farm Bill. Originally, the VAPG program was authorized to disburse $40 million in grants. The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives is lobbying to get those grants restored to that level.
The NCFC is a national association serving the interests of nearly 3,000 cooperatives whose members number more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers across the country.