NSAC's Blog

2011 Budget Drilldown: Regional Innovation Initiative

February 4, 2010

This post is the sixth in a series of commentaries by NSAC staff on the President’s 2011 budget, released on February 1st. Read the overview by Executive Director Aimee Witteman. Look out in the following days for the final budget analyses on conservation and organic programs.

USDA’s 2011 Budget request includes a new Regional Innovation Initiative designed to support regional planning and coordinate USDA assistance in rural communities for initiatives that are likely to have a greater regional economic impact.

USDA plans to set-aside about five percent of the funding from approximately 20 existing programs for a total of $135 million and allocate these funds competitively among regional pilot projects tailored to local needs and opportunities.

Rural Development’s proposed 2011 budget includes $1.4 million for staff to provide technical assistance and support for rural communities developing regional strategic plans.  The 20 grant and loan programs participating in RII come from across USDA, mainly Rural Development, the Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Natural Resources and Environment.

Rural Development will also be more focused in 2010 on regional food system work, most particularly on supporting the development of grocery stores in food deserts.  (This is in addition to the Department’s proposed new Healthy Food Financing Initiative.)

NSAC understands that Rural Development will also use some reprogrammed money from this fiscal year (2010) to support the effort. We will release details as soon as we know more.

To learn more about the Regional Innovation Initiative, check out page 14 of the USDA’s budget summary.

Categories: Local & Regional Food Systems

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