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USDA Investment in Rural Cooperatives to Offer Economic Opportunities for Virginians

Barbara Bowen
Release Date

RICHMOND, Va., Nov. 13, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development may have wrapped up its 59th annual National Cooperative Month celebration in October, but recently announced loan and grant funding will put a bow on it by spurring more economic development in Virginia.

The $1.2 billion in total awards includes three projects that will directly benefit Virginia residents by supporting economic development and bringing new revenue to farms:

Close up view of a dairy cow
Funding to increase processing capacity will be a win for Virginia dairymen in the MDVA co-op (USDA photo by Barbara Bowen).
  • National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) is receiving $450 million in funding through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to finance rural electric and telecommunications projects nationwide. The member owned, nonprofit cooperative headquartered in Dulles, Va., is organized to supplement loan programs for electric co-ops and offers financing for rural telecommunications members and their affiliates to acquire, construct and operate electric distribution, generation, transmission and related facilities.
  • Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability (VA FAIRS) will use a $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant to finance planning and technical assistance services to position more cooperatives and mutually owned businesses for success. Funds will also be used to create educational resources, offer networking opportunities, and increase center service capacity to provide solutions for every type and size of operation.
  • Maryland and Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA) will use a $40 million Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan to purchase and equip the HP Hood milk processing facility in Philadelphia, Pa., to help increase production from 10 to 25 million gallons annually. MDVA is a farmer-owned cooperative founded in 1920 that includes more than 90 dairies in 11 states and has five dairy-processing plants.

“Cooperatives embody the concept of self-help with members using, owning and controlling the organization,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “They are integral to advancing Virginia’s rural economy because each one is organized to meet the needs of that community. These awards will pack a bigger punch because they are broader in scope and will touch multiple states.”

The 112 funded projects will also support diverse communities and industries in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development offers a variety of financial assistance and services to assist rural businesses, including cooperatives and agricultural producers. For more information, visit USDA Rural Development Cooperative Services.