Agriculture Secretary Announces Funding to Strengthen Rural Businesses and Cooperatives and Boost Economic Development in Rural Communities

Contact: Jay Fletcher
(202) 690-0498

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 43 organizations in 27 states for grants and loans to help create jobs and boost economic development activity in rural areas. The announcement culminates a week in which the department has been highlighting products that are Made In Rural America.

"Many rural businesses and organizations are succeeding but with access to additional resources can create more jobs, promote growth and create an environment where more products can be made in rural America," Vilsack said. "The awards we are announcing today will not only provide funding, but they also will provide the critical training and technical assistance rural cooperatives and non-profit groups need to enhance the work they are doing to strengthen America’s Main Street businesses."

The funding is being provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program and the Intermediary Relending Program. Vilsack announced $5.8 million in RCDG awards to 32 recipients, and just over $7 million in loans to 11 recipients under USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

Rural Cooperative Development Grants are being awarded to non-profit groups and higher education institutions. The recipients will use the funds to operate centers to develop or expand rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses. The funding can be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, offer technical assistance, establish low-interest loans, and help rural businesses develop new markets for their products and services.

Today’s announcement of RCDG recipients includes several who are developing new opportunities for rural farmers and ranchers by capitalizing on the fast-growing market for locally produced food.

In South Dakota, the Value Added Agriculture Development Center based in Pierre will receive a $71,988 grant to provide technical assistance to ag cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses.

USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program helps capitalize loan funds to alleviate poverty and increase economic activity and create jobs in rural communities. Loans are provided to local organizations that establish revolving loan funds.

In South Dakota, the West River Foundation for Economic & Community Development based in Rapid City will receive a $750,000 loan to provide low interest loans to public and non-profit organizations to relend to businesses for community development. View the complete list of recipients receiving funding under today’s announcement.

Since fiscal year 2009, USDA has awarded 281 IRP loans for approximately $140 million. These loans have helped more than 4,700 businesses.

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his 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.

Last Modified: 01/30/2015