United States Department of Agriculture Offers $400 Million in Funding for Regional Food Business Centers; Tom Vilsack and Jenny Lester Moffitt Comment
WASHINGTON, DC - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is initiating a tactical plan to improve the nation’s supply chain. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced an investment of approximately $400 million to provide essential local and regional food systems with coordination, technical assistance, and capacity-building services through the USDA’s new Regional Food Business Centers.
These centers will be utilized to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and manage federal, state, and local resources.
“The USDA Regional Food Business Centers will be a new, critical asset as we continue our work to strengthen and enhance local and regional food systems across the nation,” said Vilsack. “Regional Food Business Centers will serve as USDA’s cornerstone in the development of the local and regional supply chains, building on lessons learned during the pandemic, providing technical assistance, and creating new market opportunities in areas where the need is greatest.”
According to a press release, the Regional Food Business Centers will assist small and mid-sized producers and food and farm businesses with the goal of creating a more resilient, diverse, and competitive food system. USDA will fund at least six regional centers, including a national tribal center and at least one center serving each of three targeted areas, which include:
- Colonias (counties on the U.S./Mexico border)
- Persistent poverty or other communities of high-need/limited-resources areas of the Delta and the Southeast
- High-need areas of Appalachia
The Regional Food Business Centers will work to identify farm-to-market links across their proposed geographic area to reach a variety of regions, the release stated.
“USDA is committed to supporting smaller producers, processors, and distributors to diversify economic opportunities in underserved communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The USDA Regional Food Business Centers will decrease barriers and improve supply chain linkages for producers, processors and distributors and strengthen regional food systems' networks and partnerships in response to hardships and vulnerabilities exposed by recent national emergencies, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic.”
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has published a Request for Applications for this program, with applications due electronically by 11:59 p.m. ET on November 22, 2022.
For more information on the program and application requirements, click here.
Stay tuned—more industry updates are coming soon to ANUK.