Just one week ago I was frustrated and reported on the lack of federal and other wine-related research funding available. I realized shortly thereafter perhaps, in my urgency to get back on the blogging bandwagon,  I was being a bit too hard on the Powers That Be - or at least was likely looking at the funding issue with too narrow a lens, not my usual M.O., so apologies to all. This week I've continued to get caught up on wine world news/gossip from while I was away as well as anything that might be more late-breaking. (For example, I'm now widely read on the Wine Spectator "scam"/"scandal" that broke at the end of August.) I was delighted to discover another, more positive news article about the Who's Who in wineries who were awarded USDA (US Department of Agriculture) Rural Development Grants, specifically via their Business and Cooperatives Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program.

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elk-run-winery-and-usda-grant-recipient

These funds are no joke. In my previous life I had the good fortune of working with rural communities across the country - and help them to go after and receive other USDA grant monies to improve economic development opportunities in their communities. I know too well how hard it is to a) put together a proposal given strict USDA guidelines and regulations and b) how stiff the competition is for these limited funds. For this particular round of funding nearly $20 Million was on the table, allowing 144 businesses in 37 states and Puerto Rico to benefit. Grants ranged widely, I'm sure depending on the scope and size of the project, from $2,500 to $300,000.

According to the USDA VAGP website, Value-Added Producer Grants 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, and agricultural producer groups.

Congratulations to the independent wineries in Iowa and Maryland (and perhaps elsewhere?) that received awards this year! We look forward to seeing the fruits of your rewards.

(If you are a winery and would like additional information about this and other grants available, contact the folks at Wine America.)

Do you know of other valuable funding opportunities for wine industry professionals and the like?