About $14 million is available from the Value-Added Producer Grant program for federal fiscal year 2012, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for money to be distributed in January 2013.

Applications are due by Oct. 15. Details and forms are available at http://tinyurl.com/VAPG-forms.

For the previous year, 49% of the grants awarded were less than $50,000. Producers seeking less than $50,000 can use shorter, simplified application forms, according to information in the Federal Register.

The maximum grant amounts are $100,000 for planning and $300,000 for capital expenditures.

Grants must be used for activities related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added agricultural products, according to a notice in the Federal Register.

There is a matching funds requirement for the grants, meaning every dollar provided by the USDA must be matched with cash or eligible in-kind contributions. The matching funds must be available to the grant applicants at the time they apply. The project costs cannot exceed the total of the producer grant plus the matching funds.

“Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program,” according to the USDA’s website.

Producers may receive priority if they are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain, as defined in the grant program regulations.