Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 34 organizations for grants to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
“Our rural communities have incredible potential to create new jobs and expand opportunity for rural Americans,” said Vilsack. “The grants announced today will strengthen rural business development by partnering with rural co-ops and non-profits, expanding technical assistance for Main Street businesses. Today's effort is yet another example of USDA's comprehensive focus on revitalizing the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts."
Funding is being provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. The grants are being awarded to non-profit groups and higher education institutions to create and operate centers that help establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses. These competitively-awarded grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services. Since fiscal year 2009, the RCDG program has awarded 166 grants for approximately $33 million and has helped nearly 3,000 businesses.
Today’s announcement includes several recipients who are developing new market opportunities for rural farmers and ranchers by capitalizing on budding consumer interest in locally produced food.
For example, the Value-Added Agriculture Development Center, Inc. based in Pierre, South Dakota is being selected for a $200,000 grant to provide technical assistance to agribusinesses.
Vilsack announced more than $6 million in grants for today’s list of recipients. Funding for each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.