What: USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) provides matching funds grants (i.e. 50% reimbursement) for adding value to farm commodities.
How much: Maximum $75,000 USDA award for planning projects (desk studies only) for a budget maximum of $150,000
When: Applications due March 22, 2021. Awards announced September 31, 2021.
Duration: 10-12 months
Planning grants are vital to many other USDA grant programs, including awards such as the sister grant of $250,000 (anticipated application date of March 2022) for operations and many other large USDA grant programs.
Why: The USDA wants to incentivize projects that build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include: Developing the rural economy, harnessing technological innovation, supporting a rural workforce, and improving quality of life.
Who: Patrick Van Haren and Karin Ascot of Nature Towns have successfully applied and won over $1.5 million from the Value-Added Producer Grant program, in both planning and operating grants. Planning grants answer critical questions and produce the essential feasibility studies for more extensive USDA programs. They do not commit the producer to any operational or asset activities and only pay for crucial consultant work to validate the proposal.
Rationale: Use the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program to evaluate the feasibility of creating Nature Towns (an advanced form of Agrihoods) on your site, whether it be one, or a master plan for multiple.
The study pays for:
- A detailed market study for your preferred location(s),
- Feasibility study for both the town plan, as well permanently conserving the green infrastructure around the town,
- Detailed business plans/models for the development, estimated costs for the construction of the green infrastructure, and long term operation of the farm by the applicant or alternative steward.
Nature Towns shall complete the reports in time for the following year’s application round for $250,000 operating grants (anticipated in March of 2022).