It’s a perfect time to apply for grant programs (Keeping the Farm)
(Editor’s note: Denise Lovelady is the state director for USDA Rural Development in Maryland and Delaware.)
January has come and gone in the blink of an eye, and spring is just around the corner.
I’m writing this piece before Groundhog’s Day, so I’m speculating and optimistic that he doesn’t see his shadow this year and spring will come early.
We at USDA Rural Development are always working to enhance opportunities that will improve the quality of life in rural Delaware and Maryland.
With spring deadlines in mind for two of our programs, what better way is there than to start a new year than to highlight our Value-Added Producer Grant program and the Rural Business Development Grant program.
Let’s start with a success story.
In FY 2018, Drew and Joan Norman of One Straw Farm in Harford County, Md., received a $49,700 USDA Rural Development VAPG for marketing, packaging, media advertising and transporting organic products to the market.
With the VAPG and more than 30 years of experience in growing vegetables,
One Straw Farm was able to expand their production into organic produce and promote their new venture to both existing customers and new ones.
Agricultural producers and agribusinesses foster growth by developing their commodities into value-added products, increasing their bottom lines and creating jobs. VAPG funds can be used for planning activities, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products, and for farm-based renewable energy.
Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.
USDA Rural Development is now accepting applications for the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Nationally, there is approximately $37 million available for FY 2020.
The deadline to submit electronic applications is March 5, while the deadline to submit paper VAPG applications in-person or via mail is March 10.
Electronic applications must be submitted through Grants.gov.
The VAPG is a great program so please help us spread the word for producers to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
Let’s move on to another very popular RD grant program — the USDA Rural Development Business Program Grant. The RBDG program is now open and has an approaching application deadline of March 31.
The RBDG is designed to fund targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development of rural small businesses.
In past years, RD Delaware/Maryland has awarded grants for business training, feasibility studies, and business incubators. Grants generally average $30,000 and there is no matching requirement. Rural public entities such as towns, state agencies, and non-profits are encouraged to apply.
RBDG Success Stories
The Maryland Horse Industry Board, located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland utilized an RBDG to provide assistance and training to licensed stable owners located in five Maryland counties including Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford and Queen Anne’s counties.
Those stable owners gained expertise to market and expand their businesses.
In FY 2018, Food Bank of Delaware utilized a $50,000 RBDG investment to expand rural learning programs, provide culinary arts employment training, and offer scholarships for under-employed and unemployed residents of Kent and Sussex counties.
For more information on the Rural Business Development Grant RDBG and the Value-Added Producer Grant VAPG, be sure to visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-business-development-grants and https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/value-added-producer-grants
Letitia Nichols is the USDA Rural Development Business and Cooperative Program Director for Maryland/Delaware.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-857-3588 to learn more about available resources.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925