September 28, 2010
On Thursday, September 23, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the recipients of USDA’s 2010 Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG), which support regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas. Out of 27 total funded projects, the program awarded grants to four projects pertaining to local and regional food system development:
California Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, an association of 11 councils that provide economic and natural resource conservation aid throughout California, received a $250,000 award to develop a regional food system, add value to livestock processing and marketing, utilize biomass, and develop renewable energy and agricultural resources. The CARC&DC will use funds to work in partnership with researchers, educators and economic development professionals from 18 organizations across the state to foster development and growth of locally-based businesses in four regions throughout California.
Ecotrust, an organization based in Portland, Oregon that seeks to create economic opportunity, social equity and environmental well-being by demonstrating new business models based on economic, social and environmental principles, received a $249,340 grant to support their FoodHub initiative, an online directory and marketplace that makes it easy for regional food buyers and sellers to find each other, connect and do business. The grant will aid Ecotrust in increasing recruitment of producers and buyers in rural communities and providing the training and assistance necessary to ensure FoodHub supports their goals.
Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the sustainable use and protection of natural resources for the economic and social betterment of the people of western Iowa, received an $83,000 grant to implement multiple planning and pilot strategies to support alternative agricultural businesses and year-round growing technologies for specialty crops.
North Eastern Strategic Alliance, Inc, an economic development organization that serves a nine-county region in South Carolina, received a $50,000 award to develop a strategic plan and feasibility study for the recruitment of value-added processors and agribusinesses to the region. From the organization’s website: “Pairing the agricultural production capacity of the NESA Region with value-added companies and food processors presents a proposition that is mutually beneficial for food processors who are seeking a low cost location proximate to agricultural production and for the farmers who would supply those operations.”