East Hawaii News

USDA Rural Business Grants Available

June 5, 2015, 2:42 PM HST
* Updated June 5, 2:46 PM
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United States Department of Agriculture State Director Chris J. Kanazawa announced on Friday that $30 million in funding will be available to farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs through the USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant program so that they could develop new product lines.

“The Value Added Producers Grant program not only enables farmers and ranchers with opportunities to increase their income from their farming activities, it also increases jobs and expands the food choices for Hawai’i’s families,” said State Director Kanazawa. “Hawai’i’s agriculture community has demonstrated a long history of innovation and the VAPG program provides an excellent resource to perpetuate this tradition.”

According to the USDA, VAPG grants can be used to develop new product lines from raw agriculture product uses or for already developed product lines. Special priority is given to military veterans, socially-disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and for applicants that propose mid-tier value chain projects, and those who seek funding as part of a group that will “best contribute” to increasing marketing opportunities for the previously mentioned operators.

A total of 853 VAPG have been provided $104.5 million in funding since 2009. The USDA estimates that 19 percent of the grants and 13 percent of the funding has been awarded to beginning farmers and ranchers. Nearly half of the VAPG awards went to farmers and ranchers developing their products for the local food sector during the 2013-2014 funding cycle.

Those interested in applying or learning more can contact VAPG Business Program Specialist Lori Nekoba by calling 933-8312 or e-mailing [email protected]

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