August 21, 2012
USDA announced two rounds of funding for the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program this summer. On June 26, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced funding for seven projects in two states. The second round of RBEG awards was announced August 21 for 16 grant recipients from 17 states.
USDA explains RBEG as a program that will “help spur economic development and create or save jobs.” Six of the 23 projects relate to local food and agriculture, and growth area for economic development.
The Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, VT will receive a $191,849 grant through RBEG to fund a full-time position for a Vermont Small Business Development Center advisor. The advisor with work with local colleges to develop agricultural and food businesses with the intent of increasing local processing, distribution, and sales of locally-produced food.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association will receive a grant of $55,500 to expand the online farmers market platform YourFarmstand.com. This website will help agricultural and value-added food producers to market their goods online and allows customers to purchase from multiple producers in one order that can be picked up more conveniently. Though based in Vermont, this platform can be used anywhere in the country to create and facilitate a regional online market.
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Foundation will receive $47,250 to complete an expansion evaluation for High Plains Food Cooperative, and to develop a strategic plan for increasing capacity for fresh local produce delivery in Kansas and Colorado.
The City of Harrison, Michigan was granted $250,000 to renovate a facility to house a business and product incubator, and include a commercial kitchen. Similarly, the Town of Estancia, New Mexico will receive $30,000 to renovate and purchase equipment for the Estancia Valley Commercial Kitchen.
$99,000 will go to the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust in New Hampshire and Vermont to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers and small businesses in three counties.