Georgia farmers receive Value Added Producer Grants

Feb. 7—ALBANY — Congressman Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Ga., announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Commission has awarded $1.25 million to local farms through the Value Added Producer Grant program. Awardees in middle and southwest Georgia included Goodson Pecans LLC, Georgia Organic Peanut Association Inc., Southern Pasture Power LLC, Longleaf Ridge Farms LLC, and New Communities at Cypress Pond. Each will receive $250,000 to either develop or enact ideas to expand their business.

"Our farmers and producers are entrepreneurs that help feed America and drive our economy," Bishop said in a news release. "Value Added Producer Grants help these creative and hard-working business owners explore and implement ideas that can grow their businesses. As the chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds USDA Rural Development programs, like VAPG, I am working hard every day to ensure Congress provides robust resources to make investments like this that strengthen local economies."

"Hurricane Michael devastated our local community and our farm in 2018," Casey Cox, the president of Longleaf Ridge Farms, said. "The experience motivated us to pursue new opportunities to build resilience for the long-term sustainability of our business. We were thrilled to receive the USDA Value Added Producer Grant to expand innovation for our sweet corn production and build a strong foundation for the future of our farm. This funding will enable us to diversify our business and expand the market for delicious Georgia-grown sweet corn."

"We have worked to expand the market for our pecans to Massachusetts and North Carolina," New Communities at Cypress Pond President Shirley Sherrod said. "The Value Added Producer Grant award will bolster the value of our pecans, support our efforts to organize farmer cooperatives in this area, and help us share best practices for production so that these farmers can benefit from our market reach."

"We are grateful and honored to receive a Value Added Producer Grant," Goodson Pecans Owner David Goodson said. "As a small business and farmer, this will allow us to hire more staff and build our digital presence. By doing so we can increase our outreach throughout the Southeast United States, expanding our customer base. This grant is also helping us broaden the uses of pecans beyond candies to other products — like granola — that people enjoy."

In November, Congressman Bishop hosted a virtual town hall workshop to raise awareness about USDA Rural Development programs, like VAPG. The event can be viewed on the Congressman's website at

The Value-Added Producer Grant program helps process and generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income. Agricultural Producers and Farmer-Led Cooperatives are eligible.

Grant and matching funds can be used for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product. Examples of planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans. Examples of working capital expenses include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses.

Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register.