The VAPG program is to promote small-business expansion and entrepreneurship opportunities by providing local businesses with access to capital, technical assistance and new markets for products and services. Funds may be used for feasibility studies or business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage.
KDC's client the Endless Mountains Farm Fresh Cooperative received a planning grant to investigate expanding into the Scranton, PA and the Binghamton, NY areas. Thia group of farmers is marketing their vegetable, dairy, and meat products together. KDC will help the group gather information through a series of focus groups. The data will be combined with other information and compiled into an expansion strategy and feasibility study.
KDC is also assisting the Keystone Beef Marketing Network (KBMN) with building their marketing strategy and feasibility study. The network is being organized by producers to facilitate the aggregation of cattle for shipment. KBMN received a VAPG planning grant in support of their investigation of feasibility of their business model. KDC is providing advice on the feasibility process.
And the third VAPG for which KDC played an important role went to the Fertile Grounds Farm. The farm received a working capital grant, partially based on the feasibility study and business plan KDC did for the farm as a fee-for-service project.
KDC has been involved with these three groups over a long period of time. In one case we made them aware of the grant opportunity. For all three, we provided detailed information about the VAPG and the regulations. For the Endless Mountains Farm Fresh Cooperative, KDC wrote the proposal for the group. The combined grant funding for the three projects will make a big impact on several rural communities touched by these three groups.