August 19, 2014

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Nearly $450,000 In USDA Value-Added Producer Grants For Niagara County

Funds Will Promote Growth for Small, Independent Producer, Boost Marketing Capabilities, Raise Brand Awareness and Consumer Knowledge

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $449,000 in federal funding for Niagara County. McCollum Orchards, located in Lockport, will receive $49,500; Black Willow Winery, located in Newfane, will receive $175,000; Blackman Homestead Farm, located in Lockport, will receive $49,500; and Victorianbourg Wine Estate, located in Wilson, will receive $175,000. The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program and will be used to revamp marketing strategies to raise brand awareness and increase sales.

“This much-needed funding will help support four of our Niagara County farms and orchards to expand production, increase sales and revamp marketing techniques to stay innovative in today’s information age,” said Senator Schumer. “This direct USDA assistance will allow them to better generate economic revenue, making it a win-win for our agriculture industry and the entire Niagara County economy.”

“We need our farmers to thrive if we’re going to have a strong and growing economy in New York,” said Senator Gillibrand, first New York Senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years. “This is a great investment for these four agricultural businesses in Niagara County and will help ensure they get the resources they need to bring their products to market and continue to drive economic growth in their region and across the state.”

"We truly appreciate being selected for the USDA Value Added Producer Grant,” said Julie Blackman of the Blackman Homestead Farm.  “It will allow us to expand production, marketing and distribution of our bottled fruit juices, helping us to progress towards sixth generation farm viability.”

"We are thrilled to receive the USDA VAPG grant," said Bree and Rich Woodbridge of McCollum Orchards. "As beginning farmers, we plan to use this matching grant to grow our Community Supported Agriculture farm share program and help resurrect our 6-generation farm. This grant will be invested directly into our farm's post-harvest operations so we can offer more fresh organic fruits & vegetables in our community."

The VAPG program is designed to help boost farms’ income and productivity by increasing access to capital, providing technical assistance and developing new marketing strategies for independent producers to increase exposure and broaden their customer base.