Workshop at UMES to aid farmers in completing applications to grow value-added products

PRINCESS ANNE, MD – A value-added grant workshop is reserved for producers considering expansion of a farm business by generating new value-added agricultural products or by creating and expanding market opportunities for existing products.  The event is slated for Tuesday, April 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Richard A. Henson Center on the UMES campus.

The free workshop aims to make the way clear for potential farmers interested in applying for a Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), which is set to be released soon.  The VAPG is a federally funded program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Rural Development (RD) agency.  The grant helps agricultural producers enter into activities related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added products.

This year, it is anticipated that grant amounts of up to $75,000 for planning and $250,000 for working capital will be awarded to successful applicants.  Grants are awarded through a national competition.

This event is made possible by the University of Maryland Extension Small Farm Program in partnership with the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) and the USDA RD.  The morning will be dedicated to grant writing tips and the afternoon will be focused on application preparation, with lunch provided between session thanks to support from Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit.

Bruce Weaver, Rural Business cooperative specialist and state energy coordinator, and Letitia Nichols, rural business and cooperative program director with USDA-Rural Development, will offer helpful information and details about the grant application process.  Stephen McHenry, executive director of MARBIDCO, will explain the corporation’s loan products and grant programs that can help supplement the VAPG.

Applicants who qualify as beginning farmers or ranchers, socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, a small or medium-sized farm or a ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or anyone who is proposing a mid-tier value chain may receive priority.  Although the VAPG application deadline has not yet been determined, applicants need to act quickly.

For more information or to register for the Value-Added Producer Grant Workshop at UMES, visit www.umessmallfarm.com or call Berran Rogers at 410-651-6693 or Michele Howard at 410-651-6070.  Registration is required, and the registration deadline is Tuesday, April 11.

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