Every day, American farmers struggle to capture the value of the products they sell. Growing up on September Farm in Virginia, I remember sending our cattle to the local stock sale, and depending on the week, the financial outcome might be good or poor. Our cattle are sold at fluctuating prices that are influenced by big macro trends like politics and weather, factors far beyond my family’s control. This year, beef producers have experienced a tighter financial squeeze, but livestock farmers aren’t alone in their financial distress. Small and mid sized commodity and speciality crop farmers alike are wrestling with the challenge of turning a meaningful profit given increasing costs of production and fluctuating market prices. More than ever, American farmers need to capture more value from the products they produce.
One powerful way to capture value is to create value in a way that puts more control in the hands of the farmer. The Value Added Producer Grant, a $50K funding program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture supports farmers who want to invest in new ways of producing or marketing their products to grow and capture more value. Some examples of these value-additive processes include changing the physical state of the product in a way that makes it more valuable (e.g. turning cucumbers into pickles), pursuing certifications (like Grassfed, Organic or Free Range), or developing a marketing feasibility study to sell the farm products locally. At FarmRaise, we love the Value Added Producer Grant because this funding can grow the bottom line of farm businesses.
Today, applying for this grant is extremely difficult. The application can take dozens of hours and is filled with bureaucratic rules, checklists, and administrative steps that we all find very confusing. Members of the FarmRaise community tell us that they want to apply, but are overwhelmed by the paperwork.
Farmers, we hear you, and today, we’re excited to announce a new application tool on the FarmRaise platform: VAPG Assist — powered by real humans — to help you navigate VAPG and submit a VAPG application with confidence and clarity.
VAPG Assist offers a digital checklist and a real human on our Farmer Success team to help you hone your VAPG idea, stay on top of deadlines and submission dates, and provide you with templates, budgets and a project support letter to submit a strong application. This tool is available to every FarmRaise Premium member, and our team is ready to help you get your application in ahead of the March deadline. Read more about how VAPG Assist works here.
Our FarmRaise team is excited about VAPG because this program supports the profitability of small and mid-sized American farmers, placing more agency and profitability into their hands. Farmers are the heartbeat of our national food system and a critical part of our supply chain, and their profitability breathes vitality into American communities. Programs like VAPG Assist and EQIP are just the beginning of our roadmap at FarmRaise, and in the months ahead, we’ll add application tools for more grants that help farmers grow their resilience and profitability.
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