Rural Development


Important Update:

Please note that the Grassroots Guide has not yet been updated to reflect changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed and signed into law in December 2018. We are in the process of updating the Guide and expect to publish an updated version in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, please use this guide for basic information about programs and important resources and links for more information, but check with USDA for any relevant program changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill. Also, check out our blog series covering highlights from the new farm bill. 

Small rural businesses are vital to sustaining rural jobs and economies, but starting and growing them isn’t easy. Our nation’s rural development policies have the opportunity to revitalize agricultural communities in an equitable manner, one that provides meaningful employment and gives people a lasting stake in their communities.

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, non-farm business ventures.

Investing in rural development creates and retains jobs, sustains rural populations, and builds vibrant communities.

NSAC led advocacy efforts that resulted in the 2014 Farm Bill making continued investments in the future of rural America, including $63 million for the Value Added Producer Grant Program and $15 million for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.

This section of our guide provides an overview of the key federal programs focused on rural economic development, including programs for small businesses supporting locally and regionally produced foods (such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program’s Local and Regional Food Enterprise Provision) as well as programs available to community-based organizations and institutions working on the ground to provide technical assistance and capital to rural entrepreneurs.