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Funding Available for Rural Cooperative Development

May 31, 2018


Cooperative market in Fairbanks, Alaska. A prime example of rural cooperative development. Photo credit: USDA.

Cooperative market in Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo credit: USDA.

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service announced the availability of nearly $9 million in grants to support rural cooperative development. $3 million of those funds are set-aside specifically for grants targeted to socially disadvantaged groups. Cooperative development grant funds are available through the general Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCDG) and the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant subprogram.

Rural Cooperative Development Grants

Rural Cooperative Development Grants are available to non-profit corporations or higher education institutions for the purpose of establishing or enhancing centers for training in cooperative development. Each applicant can apply for up to $200,000, and in most cases matching funds are required for 25 percent of the total amount requested. Grant funds may be used to pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing and operating centers for rural cooperative development, or 95 percent in the case of tribal land grant institutions. The grant term is one year.

Grant and matching funds can be used for developing and operating a Rural Cooperative Development Center. Examples of technical assistance and other services the Centers provide are:

  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Developing business plans
  • Providing leadership and operational improvement training
  • Facilitating strategic planning

A Center can be located in any area, but the individuals and business assisted must be located in an eligible rural area.

Deadline: Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than July 30, 2018. You may also hand carry your application to one of the Rural Development field offices, but it must be received by close of business on the deadline date. Late applications are not eligible for funding under this Notice and will not be evaluated. Electronic applications must be received by July 24, 2018, to be eligible for grant funding.

More information about RCDG and how to apply can be found on the USDA Rural Development website. RCDG application materials are available under the “Forms & Resources” tab.

Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grants

Additionally, $3 million is available in competitive grant funds for the Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grants (SDPG) program. For this subset of RCDG grants, eligible applicants include cooperatives and groups of cooperatives as well as cooperative development centers who will provide technical assistance to small, socially-disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The maximum award amount is $200,000, and no matching funds are required.

Grants must be used to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are:

  • Feasibility studies
  • Business plans
  • Strategic planning
  • Leadership training

Note that the cooperative or center can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area.

Deadline: Paper copies of grant applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than July 30, 2018. You may also hand carry your application to one of the Rural Development field offices, but it must be received by close of business on the deadline date. Electronic copies must be received by no later than midnight Eastern Time, July 24, 2018.

More information about this grant opportunity and how to apply can be found on the USDA Rural Development website. SDPG application materials available are under the “Forms & Resources” tab.

You can find contact information for state Rural Development offices here.


Categories: Grants and Programs, Rural Development


3 responses to “Funding Available for Rural Cooperative Development”

  1. […] post Funding Available for Rural Cooperative Development appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture […]

  2. I am interested in more information.

  3. Reana Kovalcik says:

    Please refer to the links in the article for additional information.

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