Senators Urge Appropriations Committee to Support Efforts by Farmers and Fishermen to Offer New Products

Sens. Collins, Casey, Grassley, Brown called for robust funding for the USDA’s Value Added Producer Grants Program

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees urging them to include robust funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program in the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

 

“VAPG has successfully help thousands of farmers, ranchers, dairymen, and fishermen across the country harness the entrepreneurial spirit and develop value-added enterprises,” the Senators wrote.  “As agricultural and rural communities continue to struggle through volatile commodity prices, trade uncertainty, and a changing consumer base, programs like VAPG are needed to support independent operations and foster entrepreneurial spirit. We urge you to provide robust discretionary funding for VAPG as agriculture spending legislation for fiscal year 2020 is finalized.”

 

VAPG was created in 2000 to help producers mitigate risk, reach new emerging agricultural markets, and capture more of the consumer dollar.  A 2016 Economic Research Service study of the program showed that businesses that received VAPG assistance were less likely to fail and, on average, VAPG recipients created more jobs (five to six more employees) for their communities than similar non-recipient businesses.  One of the many examples of the utility of this program included a grant in 2016 that allowed Penobscot McCrum in Maine to process raw potatoes into potato wedges, significantly increasing their customer base.

 

With support from Senators Collins, Casey, Grassley, and Brown, the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized VAPG as part of an umbrella program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and provided VAPG with $17.5 million per year in mandatory funding.  Unfortunately, that level of annual funding falls well short of the historic average the program received in combined mandatory and discretionary funding.

 

Click HERE to read the full letter.