April 3, 2020
Value Added Producer Grant – Success in Arkansas

Value Added Producer Grant – Success in Arkansas

The mission of what I do is I try to empower
producers to make more informed decisions. Hopefully those decisions will make
them more profitable and more sustainable in their farms and ranches. The Value Added Producer Grant program looks to help
farmers think through ways that they can diversify and add value to their agricultural commodities. In 2012, we applied for a VAPG planning grant, and we used that to do a feasibility study on the possibility of a cooperative of pasture poultry farmers. I think that what the value added producer grant does
is it helps support small family farms in developing new market opportunities that give them
more of that food dollar, and give them a better chance of success. This is giving a
new generation of farm entrepreneurs some support as they look for
new alternative market opportunities. So the benefits for a farmer to think through a
value-added strategy, utilizing the Value Added Producer Grant program, is that it allows those
farmers to think typically in a larger context across the market, and it allows
them to identify and target their niche customer, thereby it allows those farmers to
make connections and build relationships and be more successful in not only
reaching those customers but actually capturing a premium in the price because
they have successfully differentiated themselves out in this very broad marketplace that
has an overwhelming number of products. As an e-commerce company, our customers
are spread out across the country, and so we’ve been able to use the support of the
Value Added Producer Grant to develop a brand, do digital marketing in a way that helps customers learn about our products, learn about our farmers story and how we’re different, and then it gives customers
the opportunity to buy directly from us. We live in a time where consumers have unprecedented interest in where their food comes from and when farmers are able to make those connections,
and in many ways educate the consumers about what has been done to their products, how it’s been
processed, how it’s been packaged, it makes a connection that consumers gain satisfaction, but more
importantly, the consumers and the customers they stop looking at price. The VAPG program allows the farmer to do some of
those things, in terms of either looking at conducting a feasibility study to explore value-added,
different types of equipment, processing, packaging, but also maybe even just thinking through a different
messaging or tactic if they’re focusing on local. I think it’s a great opportunity for small farmers to have a bit of a leg up, and we need more farmers, and so this is a great opportunity for
farmers to come into a slightly smaller scale of farming and find new market opportunities. We invest in farmer and rancher results,
and that’s what the VAPG program allows.

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