Do you have a commodity that you raise or grow that you are turning into a value added product and need to expand your market or customer base and do not have the resources to do so? Or do you have a value added product, that you could use assistance in the processing activities? If so, USDA Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) may fit your needs. I wrote about this grant program in March, so you could start thinking about how it might fit in with your operation’s plans. Check out that article to get an idea of what value added products include.
Now we have all the information you’ll need to get going, and to meet the July 1, 2016 deadline.
How Much Money Can I Ask For?
The VAPG offers two different kinds of grants: Working Capital Grants of up to $250,000 and Planning Grants of up to $75,000.
What’s the Deadline?
There are TWO Deadlines depending on how you submit your application.
The Paper Application deadline is July 1, 2016. If you hand deliver it to your local office, it needs to be there by 4:30 p.m. on July 1, 2016. If you mail it, it must be postmarked July 1, 2016.
You can also submit your application through Grants.gov. The Grants.gov deadline is June 24, 2016.
Donald Nunn, who coordinates this program for the USDA in Colorado says that paper applications are best and he doesn’t recommend using Grants.gov. He also says, “Email applications are not accepted. (It’s a regulatory thing.)”
Who Can Help Me?
When we’re looking at that kind of cash, it makes sense that the person asking for it fills out some pretty serious paperwork. So one of the best first steps you can do is download all the information available to potential applicants. Take a look through it, and begin to make a list of questions or things you don’t quite understand. Then contact your local VAPG Coordinator or Rural Development Office so that you can go over the process and get answers to your questions. (Don’t know who that is? Head over to this website with links to each state office, then click on your state. Once you’re at your state’s website, click on the “Contact Information” column to find the person that you need to work with.
Donald Nunn also provided us with a copy of this Powerpoint from the national office because it summarizes the regulation that provides for this money in an easier to follow manner. You can check it out to see if it answers some of your questions.
OK, Here’s the Paperwork
First, here’s the Notice of Funding Availability that appeared in the Federal Register.
You will need a DUNS Number and you’ll need to register it with SAM.gov. Here is a Word document that tells you how to do that.
Complimentary Completeness Reviews!
Donald Nunn will review applications from folks living in Colorado. Check with folks in your state if they offer this service as well. If you’re working with Donald, he asks that you submit a complete application to me by June 1, 2016. Please note, the complimentary completeness review will not be performed on partial applications! In fairness to all applicants, he can’t do reviews of partial applications, as piece meal reviews are not time efficient. Plus, there is always a chance something will be missed. You can email your completed application to him. Just remember that he can’t accept them as final applications by email.
Last – Some Grant Writing Tips
Every grant includes “Evaluation Criteria” that you should do your best to meet as you’re writing your application. These criteria are included in both the Templates for Working Capital and Planning grants. The “Priority Points” for scoring applications are available in the Notice of Funding Availability on page 20612.
When I’m writing a grant, I look carefully at the language used in the instructions and then I try to use some of the same words in my proposal so that it is clear to reviewers that I am addressing what they consider to be important. So for example, if they say, “The proposal should demonstrate that the project will blah..blah..blah,” I write, “This project will blah..blah..blah by _____ (and I fill in something that I’m doing). It sometimes seems a little redundant, but just think if you were reviewing a bunch of applications. Wouldn’t it be nice to review something that states things so clearly for you?
Donald Nunn also adds that he cannot stress enough how important it is to use the 2016 templates provided. There is nothing he hates more than having to disqualify a good application because it’s missing an important certification or required item because the writer created his or her own template.
So Get Going On Your Application Soon!
It’s not a quick process, and there’s going to be some head scratching and hard work involved. So if you’re interested in getting some money for value added products at your place, start working on the application now.