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Value-Added Producer Grants Support Local Producers, Biobased Initiatives
Vermilion County Farm Receives Grant to Expand Artisan Cheese Operation
Champaign, May 2, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday the selection of 110 grants to agricultural producers and rural businesses that will help create jobs and develop new products. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. This week’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“This support will benefit rural businesses and the communities where the recipients are located,” Vilsack said. “These awards also will advance USDA’s goals to develop a bio-based economy and support local and regional food systems.”
In Wednesday’s announcement, 110 awardees were selected for USDA Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). The grants help agricultural producers increase their income by expanding marketing opportunities, creating new products or developing new uses for existing products.
“I am pleased to announce funding for Ludwig Farmstead Creamery in Illinois,” said USDA Rural Development Illinois Director Colleen Callahan. “This funding will help them bolster their bottom line by adding value to their product, and it will help make fresh locally and regionally grown foods more readily available in our grocery stores and restaurants.”
Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, LLC in rural Fithian will use a $300,000 working capital award to support expenses related to their on-farm milk to artisan cheese operation. Using high quality milk from their small award-winning Registered Holstein herd, the Creamery’s product line features American Original and European-inspired cheeses. Ludwig Creamery markets its products directly to consumers through Farmer’s Markets in three states, restaurants and retail outlets, and wineries in Illinois and Indiana. These grant funds will be used to help build the cheese inventory in support of expanding their market with regional and national distributors.
Value-Added Producer Grants are an important element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s work to support local and regional food systems. Previous VAPG awards supporting local and regional projects are mapped on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food compass, http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm
Through 2008, Congress made several enhancements to the VAPG program. It expanded the definition of value-added to include locally-produced agricultural food products, and it gave priority to projects that focus on increasing opportunities for small and mid-size family farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).