Rural Economic and Community Development


Over half of all new jobs created in the most rural regions of the nation come from small, non-farm business ventures. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition works to advance federal policies and programs that promote rural entrepreneurship and small business success in rural communities. This is part of the larger strategy to revitalize agricultural communities and provide meaningful employment to give people a lasting stake in their communities.

NSAC has worked with Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and farmers and ranchers to create, improve, and promote programs like the Rural Microentrepreneurship Assistance Program, Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Value-Added Producer Grants, and Rural Business Development Grant Program, among others.

Every several years, as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal farm bill, we inform legislative decisions regarding rural development programs; we work each year to protect and enhance that funding in the annual appropriations process; we publish guides and conduct outreach to producers and other stakeholders; and we routinely meet with and deliver recommendations to USDA to influence program implementation.

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Learn More About NSAC’s work on rural economic and community development!

Small-scale entrepreneurship is the one economic development strategy that consistently works in rural communities: over half of all new jobs created in the most rural areas come from small, off-farm business ventures. NSAC calls upon federal policy-makers to prioritize support for federal farm bill policies and programs that help farmers, ranchers, and other entrepreneurs to build businesses and create jobs in rural America.

In support of these positions, NSAC has worked with Congress and USDA to create and improve a number of loan, grant, and technical assistance programs, including the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) program, Value-Added Producer Grants, and local and regional food enterprise component of the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program. We develop policy proposals, help shape the federal rulemaking process, conduct outreach to producers and other stakeholders, and analyze the impacts of these programs.

Looking for specific information on federal programs that invest in rural economic development? Check out NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Policy.

Recent Actions on Rural Economic and Community Development