Case Studies of Value Added Producer Grant Recipients

  • American Natural Soy toll processes organic soybeans and flax seed into oil and meal. They also organically refine, bleach and deodorize (RBD) canola, sunflower and safflower oils. Product is shipped all over the world.
  • Apple of His Eye Orchard - Richard Sochacki and his wife of Anderson, Indiana, decided to start an apple orchard just four years ago. With their 320 trees now producing old and new "favorites," their on-site gift shop offers apple products, including their popular apple cinnamon donuts; other seasonal crops; and gift items.
  • Aquaventures Investment, LLC is an Iowa-based value-added company that plans to enter the shrimp production market. As ocean harvests are declining and demand for seafood is increasing, there appears to be good potential in the farm-raised aquaculture business. This winter, investors will be sought in Iowa to build a pilot confinement facility in the west central Alabama location.
  • Bailey Foods, LLC is a packing plant located in Eastern North Carolina. The firm specializes in roaster and barbecue pigs. Bailey Foods is owned by Andrew Hunt Farms, which specializes in high-quality pork production.
  • Beef Ventures - This Indiana company, started in 2002, originated with a feasibility study that was turned into a business plan to market Indiana beef. Now the company functions as a think tank, always pursuing new, innovative ideas and new ventures.
  • Black Ankle Vineyards is distinguished as the first estate winery in Maryland. Guided by their research, owners Sarah O’Herron and Ed Boyce are determined to create wines with the complexity, subtlety and nuance of the great European wines.  
  • Blue Ridge Food Ventures, located in Asheville, North Carolina, is a shared-use, value-added food processing center that serves food entrepreneurs throughout western North Carolina.
  • Cal/West Seeds is the largest member-owned U.S. cooperative devoted exclusively to the seed business. It is a marketing cooperative in an industry that is dominated by large, multinational companies.
  • Champoeg Farms - Local Economy Benefits from Turkey Farm Success with USDA Infusion
  • Cloverdale Growers Alliance, in Dunn Center, North Dakota, is a producer-oriented firm raising and selling hogs to Cloverdale Foods. Cloverdale Growers Alliance has had many valuable members throughout the past fourteen years. 
  • Crosswind Energy LLC was formed by ten producers in northwest Iowa who banded together to explore the idea of erecting turbines on their own farms.
  • Dakota Lamb Growers Cooperative was started nearly ten years ago, with an idea to market lamb meat to the consumer. Soon after the company formed, they switched gears and went from marketing commodity lamb to natural lamb to differentiate themselves from other companies.
  • Dakota Premium Hay was started by stockholders and local farmers coming together to collectively package and sell hay for horses to feed stores on the East coast.
  • East Carolina Soy Processors - What started as a cooperative venture to produce soy products for local markets in eastern North Carolina has evolved into a start-up soy-crushing business scheduled to open in late 2008. Because the soy oil and soy meal markets have dramatically expanded since the group of farmer investors first met six years earlier, their original interest in crushing soy is still financially viable.
  • Eden Farms founder Kelly Biensen of State Center, Iowa, can say his specialty pork business has been profitable every year since its beginning. Factors at play in the commodity pork industry in 2008 are creating some new hurdles for the specialty producers, however.
  • F. Teldeschi Winery - This winery, nestled in Sonoma County's wine country, is a family-owned business that sells 95 percent of its grapes to local wineries in the area with the remaining grapes used to produce small quantities of their high-quality wine sold throughout the world.
  • Farmers’ All Natural Creamery, Wellman, Iowa, began with the idea of taking hard-to-market milk from local farmers with special circumstances, processing it and meeting the needs of a growing consumer demand for natural and organic products.
  • Farmers Cooperative, with 406 Class A members, is a full-service agribusiness providing grain marketing, chemicals, feed, fertilizer and petroleum. It handles #2 yellow corn and soybeans.
  • Fessenden Cooperative Association started in the early 1940s in Fessenden, North Dakota. The Cooperative’s primary services include receiving and shipping wheat, corn, pinto beans, sunflower and soybeans.
  • Garcia Farms is in its infancy stage, but Scott and Robert have begun laying the groundwork for future growth, starting with what was familiar – chickens. This time around, it was also a matter of economics.
  • Gentz Cattle Company raises registered Texas longhorns on their land near the Gulf Coast. In addition to selling cattle for recreational purposes, James has diversified, processing some of their cattle into beef to be sold at area farmers markets.
  • Golden Grain Energy is a privately-held company dedicated to adding value to northern Iowa’s corn production by turning locally-grown corn into clean-burning ethanol.
  • Grassland Beef, launched in 2001, prides itself on providing grass-fed beef that is "nutritious and health-enhancing." Testing at two independent facilities has validated this Missouri company's claim; their beef contains high amounts of conjugated linoleic acid.
  • Greenglade Goat Milk Specialties - When too many goats produced too much milk, Diana McCown of Martell, Nebraska, opened a licensed goat dairy and began selling goat cheese. A decade later, McCown expanded her business to include a cheese plant, which was completed in 2008. 
  • Heartland Nuts ‘N More is a Valparaiso, Nebraska-based cooperative of 44 native black walnut and pecan growers from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas. Founded in late 2003, the co-op purchases products from its members, then processes and bags the nuts to be sold nationwide.
  • Heavenly Creations - This extensive line of gourmet jams, jellies, syrups, baking mix and toffee are sold in specialty food stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets throughout the United States.
  • Hilmar Cheese Company is located in California's fertile Central Valley in Hilmar, California, and has grown to be the largest single-site producer of natural American-style cheese and whey products in the world. They recently located a new facility in the Texas Panhandle in Dalhart, Texas.
  • The I-35 BioVillage will have parks, open green spaces; a grocery/convenience store that heavily relies on local and organic foods; fuel (E10, E85 and biodiesel); displays and educational events about topics related to sustainability and green; recreational vehicle grounds; a performing arts center; and more.
  • Innovative Growers is a successful farmer-owned, specialty-grain supply company that increases grower-member profitability. The mission of IG is to increase grower-member competitiveness and profitability by building long-term business relationships with seed companies, processors, end-users and others.
  • Jisa Farmstead Cheese was started in 2005 when David and Bonnie Jisa launched a commercial cheese operation, a response to difficulties in the dairy industry brought on by a drop in milk prices.
  • Jumpin' Good Dairy - Jumpin' Good Dairy was able to utilize a VAPG grant and establish an expanded marketing program with five new cheeses.
  • Kilby Cream - The Kilby family turned a commitment to dairying, community and quality into a delicious value-added business. Kilby Cream opened for business in 2005 on a Kilby farm near Rising Sun, Maryland. Their focus is premium ice cream.
  • Leaning Oaks Vineyard yields several grape varietals: cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and zinfandel, all red grapes, and the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, both white grapes. But rather than turning it around to be bottled and sold, Fasano processes the wine into sauces and jellies, cooking out the alcohol while preserving its aroma and taste profile.
  • Little Vine Vineyards and Winery - This winery in Georgia received a 2016 value added producer grant.
  • Lodi Winegrape Commission was funded in 1991. The Commission serves to raise awareness of the Lodi - Woodbridge winegrape production region among "influentials" -- the wine trade, the press and consumers and to provide growers with information, materials, education and strategies directed at profit improvement.
  • MaxYield Cooperative is a 93-year-old, 100 percent farmer-owned cooperative that handles grains (soy, corn), agronomy products, seed and energy (LP, gas). 
  • Naturally Iowa LLC  is a Clarinda, Iowa organic and all natural dairy whose products include fluid milk, drinkable yogurt, ice cream and the use of bottles made of corn, know as PLA (Ingeo) bottles.
  • The Olive Grower’s Council formed in 1978 due to a large influx of new plantings on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California. That year, the processors told the growers that they would only give them the price to cover harvest – nothing for the cost of the product itself. In response, the olive growers got together to figure out a strategy for the future.
  • Oregon Woodland Cooperative is a cooperative of woodland owners.  Since 1981, this cooperative has been working together to improve, manage and market products from the forest.
  • Organic Essentials was founded in 1996 as a farmer-owned company to take organic fiber from the farm to the store shelf. It manufactures non-woven cotton products such as cotton balls and cotton swabs that carry the Organic Essentials brand.
  • Pacific Coast Producers is a California processor of fruits and tomatoes. Pacific Coast Producers energized new product and marketing ideas with two sucessful Value Added Producer Grant proposals, one in 2014 and one in 2012.
  • Pedroncelli Vineyard & Winery, Geyserville, California - This winery has been family owned and operated since 1927 and offers a large variety of wines sold throughout the United States.
  • Picket Fence Creamery is a family-owned and -operated dairy farm and country store in Woodward, Iowa.  The farm, owned by Jeff and Jill Burkhart, utilizes 80 acres. Using rotational grazing, the 80 Jersey cows produce milk that is pasteurized on site and bottled or made into value-added products such as ice cream or cheese.
  • San Xavier Co-op Farm - Farm's Milling Facility Gets Boost from USDA Grant
  • SoyLink™ is the only plant in the world that makes its primary product – a milled small-particle soy powder – and uses a new technology that removes the beany flavor characteristic of other soybean powders, according to Dr. Noel Rudie.
  • Springbank Farm is a blueberry farm in Linn County, Oregon, using a VAPG award to study the feasibility of making and selling blueberry wine.
  • Sugarloaf Mountain - When the four children of Dan and Polly O'Donoghue of Maryland inherited their parent's farm, they converted it into a vineyard/winery. Within two years of opening, the business had already won two “Best of Class” Awards for their premium dry wines.
  • Sunenergie - Patrick Van Haren launched Sunergie in 2003 out of a desire to bring marketing expertise to the agriculture sector and the renewable energy industry. After weathering several setbacks over the years, the company is now prepared to put $200 million in assets into bioenergy and compost production.
  • Sun-Maid - 2009 has about 1,000 grape raisin growers. Sun-Maid is one of the most recognized trademarks in the today’s crowded marketplace. Consumers associate the brand with natural and nutritious dried fruit products
  • Sunsweet Growers Inc. used their VAP grant to go towards their new product "D'Noir Prunes" and "Plum Amazins".
  • Taylor Fish Farm Partnership - located near Cedar Grove, North Carolina, the farm produces 250,000 pounds of tilapia annually.
  • Texas Aquaculture Cooperative - With catfish farmers scattered throughout parts of southern Texas, a dozen banded together in 2002 to create the Texas Aquaculture Cooperative, which has grown to include 35 producers and a frozen catfish processing plant.
  • Texas Citrus Mutual, a trade association representing Texas citrus growers, was founded 50 years ago to market the industry on behalf of its members. More recently, the association has focused on production issues, launching a first-in-the-nation tree insurance program and combating citrus greening and other diseases and pests.
  • Texas Olive Ranch - More than a decade after planting his first trees, Jim Henry finally harvested a crop from his 60-acre olive orchard and manufactured the first and only Texas-made olive oil, all of which was sold before it was ever bottled.
  • Three Guys Farms, Restaurant Venture Takes Off with Boost from USDA Grant - Armed with an idea about producing and serving foods and a relatively small financial boost from the USDA Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, Serge Bukhman and his two partners Alex Notov and Igor Shchiglik are doing what they set out to do: Disrupt the generally expected business models for small scale agriculture.
  • Upper Red Fork Innovations - Looking for a way to add value to their hard red winter wheat, Tami and David Buss and their family of Hunter, Oklahoma, went back to an old family recipe to try to retain some of the value of their crop. 
  • The Valley Fig Growers cooperative began in 1959 and is now the largest fig handler in the United States. With 20 grower members, approximately half of the dried figs harvested in California go to market through Valley Fig Growers.
  • Value Added Products (VAP) Cooperative was started in 2000 with “the idea and a group of 25 wheat farmers who were looking for ways to increase the value of the wheat they grow.”
  • Valuable Lessons Learned in USDA VAPG Alabama Dehydration Plant Project - In 2016 Bon Secour Valley Ingredients (BSVI), Foley, Alabama, launched a facility to dehydrate unused (often below-grade) field crops and create powders/flours that could increase nutritional value in many foods.
  • Vande Rose Farms LLC was formed in 1999 from a base of three farm families: The Van Gilst, De Bruin and Rozenboom families. All are producers in Mahaska County in Iowa. They trace roots and a bond back more than 150 years, when the first-settler families were immigrants from Holland, coming to the state to farm the land and share work and lives.
  • Walters’ Pumpkin Patch started out as farming and ranching business for Carroll and Becky Walters. In 1998, the Walters decided to try to grow pumpkins as a business, and Walters’ Pumpkin Patch began to take shape.
  • Western United Dairymen (WUD) is a trade association with voluntary membership. With 1,100 of the state’s dairies as members, they represent approximately 60 percent of the milk production in California. Membership benefits include resources in labor law, environmental regulations and pricing issues.