ERS finds value in Value Added Producer Grants. A new report by USDA’s Economic Research Service finds that the department’s Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program has had a positive effect on the survival and growth of rural businesses. The report shows that businesses that received VAPGs were less likely to fail than similar businesses that did not receive support through the program. VAPG recipients also provided more jobs for their communities than similar non-recipient businesses. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition referred to the report in faulting the House Agriculture Committee for passing a farm that fails to fund the program. “The new ERS report demonstrates clearly how impactful and important direct investments in programs like the Value-Added Producer Grants Programs are to empowering local communities and increasing rural economic opportunity,” said Wes King, a NSAC policy specialist. He calls the committee’s failure to fund the program “shortsighted.” A committee spokesman said the panel agrees the VAPG progam is important, “which is why the bill increased its authorization.” The spokesperson added that the panel “certainly” would encourage appropriators to fully fund the program and said the “idea that mandatory spending is the sole reflection of the committee’s priorities is patently false.”