Earlier this month, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced almost 300 Value Added Producer Grant recipients across the Nation. Each one of those recipients has a story, and a dream that, with help from USDA, will become reality. From producing pumpkin puree and gourmet cheese to expanding a caviar production operation in Idaho (Yes, Idaho), Rural Americans are using these matching grants to grow their businesses and bring high quality products to market.
Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.
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The owners of the Chapel Hill (NC) Creamery, got a grant to help them expand their cheese operation. The VAPG grant will supply working capital to help the farm meet its goals. (Photo courtesy of the Chapel Hill Herald Sun.)
Earlier today, I had the honor of joining non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions, CEOs and others involved with agriculture and economic development to kick off the “The Many Faces of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” conference hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. I was there to continue the work that President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address last month. Read more »
During a recent visit to Oregon, USDA’s Director for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Max Finberg, visited the Food Innovation Center in Portland, where researchers are helping producers get local edibles on the shelf.
The Food Innovation Center (FIC), an experiment station administered jointly by Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, works extensively with USDA to help agricultural producers and food businesses get local foods to market. To make this possible, the FIC conducts a variety of studies related to product development, packaging, shelf life, consumer acceptance, economic feasibility and product marketing. Read more »
North Dakota produce at a local farmers market. Photo Courtesy of Sue Balcom. Used with permission.
A growing consumer appetite for foods grown in their region was the focus of a recent Food and Agricultural Council (FAC) meeting in Valley City, North Dakota. FAC Chairman, Jasper Schneider, also state director of USDA Rural Development, invited healthy food activists to share the ups and downs of this growing movement. Read more »
One of the most satisfying aspects of my job has been to hear the various ways USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant program is making a positive difference in our rural economy. I’m pleased to announce new funding efforts by the Obama Administration to create jobs and foster new business opportunities in rural America.
Rural Americans take pride in and depend on the farmers, ranchers, and locally-owned businesses that provide fresh foods for their communities. Despite the important role of these rural businesses and cooperatives, it can be difficult for them to begin marketing or distributing their products without financial support. Read more »
I recently began the Know your Farmer, Know Your Food College tour, and one of the locations I visited was a farmer’s market in North Carolina. Many of the regionally and locally produced products we see at farmer’s markets have a helping hand from USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Sometimes it’s tough for a small or beginning rural business or cooperative to come up with the money for a feasibility study, marketing or packaging. That’s where USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant program can help. Read more »