WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) 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.
Grassley spearheaded the effort to create the VAPG program in 2000 after hearing some of the business challenges facing Iowa farmers. 
“This market-development program is about finding and fostering new value-added business opportunities for the family farmer. I'm proud this program has given Iowans a much-needed boost to help get innovative products off the ground. As agricultural and rural communities continue to struggle through volatile commodity prices, trade uncertainty, and a changing consumer base, programs like Value Added Producer Grants are needed to support independent operations and foster entrepreneurial spirit,” Grassley said.
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. This program has benefited businesses all around Iowa from WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon to Plantpeddler in Cresco.
With support from 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. While that level of annual funding falls short of the historic average the program received in combined mandatory and discretionary funding, Grassley will continue working to keep this program a priority with adequate funding.
Click HERE to read the full letter.