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Funding opportunity for value added producers

Contributed by: David Wittwer, Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Rural Development is currently accepting applications for the Value Added Producer Grant program (VAPG). This program can be used to conduct feasibility studies or as working capital for value added projects. Applicants must be independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, or majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value added methodologies range from a change in physical state of the agricultural product to an agricultural product that was produced in a manner that enhances its value.

For example, utilizing their VAPG funding, Sprout, located in Little Falls, holds an indoor growers and makers marketplace, operates a commercial kitchen that its members can use to produce value added products, and operates a food hub that aggregates products from over 50 growers and then sells to CSA (community supported agriculture) customers, commercial, and institutional buyers. One of these customers is the Brainerd Public Schools along with several other buyers in the surrounding area. The relationships that Sprout has built allow their member producers to garner a higher price for their products as well as open up new markets.

One example of an exciting new market, Sprout, in conjunction with the local hospital, has pioneered a prescription CSA program providing locally sourced produce to prescription CSA recipients. In addition to the CSA share, Sprout also offers classes to assist recipients in the preparation and cooking of the foods received in their share. For questions or information about applying for the Value Added Producer Grant program through USDA Rural Development, please visit the website at or contact David Wittwer at or (763) 689-3354 x 113.

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