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Rural Businesses Get $20 Million Boost in USDA funding

October 1, 2015

On Tuesday, September 28th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced close to $20 million in grants from the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program to support the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses. The program provides competitive grants to governmental entities, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations for planning, technical assistance, job training, and the acquisition of land, capital, equipment and other business development needs.

NSAC congratulates the over 300 grantees from around the country, and would like to especially recognize the following five NSAC member groups who were among the grantees:

  • New England Farmers Union Education Foundation (Rhode Island and Connecticut) which received a total of $42,000 to support co-operative enterprise development in Connecticut and beginning farmer classes in Rhode Island. Partnering with the Neighboring Food Co-operative Association, the Foundation will deliver technical assistance to help develop two food co-ops and a co-operative food kitchen that would serve area farms and food entrepreneurs in Connecticut. In partnership with Young Farmer Network, Northeast Organic Farming Association Rhode Island (NOFA-RI), Farm Fresh Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, and others, the Foundation will coordinate a series of winter workshops on multiple topics – from irrigation to business planning – geared to beginning farmers.
  • Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (Maine) which received $98,950 to establish an organic farm and business loan fund, provide technical assistance, and develop business and marketing workshops. The loan fund will help small and medium-sized businesses seeking to expand or enhance their farm or processing operations through business planning, marketing, aggregation, or other business enhancement. MOFGA staff will provide technical assistance to organic farmers, wholesalers and processors on business planning and marketing development, as well as those transitioning to organic and interested in pursuing organic certification. The business and marketing workshops will be tailored to meet the unique needs of organic agriculture producers and business owners.
  • Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (California) which received $50,000 to support its Farmer Education and Enterprise Development (FEED) Program, which aims to educate and train 70 new and emerging farm enterprises to plan and launch establish independent organic farm businesses. The FEED program is comprised of three main services: (1) the Farmer Education Course, (2) the Organic Farm Incubator and (3) ALBA Organics, a food hub which markets participating farmers’ produce throughout the state.
  • California Farmlink (California) which received $39,000 to provide technical assistance and access to loan capital for farm businesses affected by the historic drought impacting California agriculture. The project is expected to help at least 40 growers, many of whom are beginning farmers, receive business and financing technical assistance. At least 20 growers are expected to receive farm water audit services and 25 are expected to receive small farm loans. The project aims not only to improve business performance, but also to create and retain jobs in rural areas.
  • Center for Rural Affairs (Nebraska) also received awards to provide technical assistance and training. The first grant of $38,687 is focused on helping farmers and schools increase local food processing and will create new opportunities for local food distribution in five counties. The second grant of $99,000 will support work with the Santee Sioux and Omaha tribes to help home-based food businesses develop new markets.

To download the complete list of awardees, please see this page.

For more information on RBDG, visit our RBDG page in NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.

Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Rural Development

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