USDA Announces Funding For Cooperatives to Create Jobs and Nurture Rural Business Development

Posted on 10/07/2010 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced support to help rural cooperatives expand economic activity in their communities. The Under Secretary made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Tom Vilsack during a speech in Washington marking October as National Cooperatives Month.

"President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have recognized the importance of America's Rural Cooperatives during Cooperative Month. Rural cooperatives not only provide thousands of jobs, they invigorate local communities and businesses," Tonsager said. "The grants I am announcing will help these recipients continue their work. Their success underscores the importance of the cooperative system as a successful business model."

The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. During his speech, Tonsager highlighted several cooperative projects and acknowledged the efforts of co-op officials from across the country. According to the National Cooperative Business Association, the nation's 30,000 cooperatives account for more than $650 billion in revenue and more than 2 million jobs.

One of the cooperatives acknowledged by the Under Secretary, Farm to Table, plans to use a $142,000 grant to improve economic conditions in rural New Mexico. It will collaborate with New Mexico's oldest member-owned cooperative - La Montanita - on a best practices curriculum for food system cooperative development, and on a new loan investment initiative for food systems businesses.

The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives will use its grant funds to provide small and minority farmers with development assistance. The Center focuses the vast majority of its efforts on the most distressed rural areas of the state. The group helps minority farmers establish financially sound businesses.

The California Center for Cooperative Development will receive a $225,000 grant to develop new cooperatives, promote community-supported agriculture, strengthen the marketing of small farm production, and develop systems to link growers with regional consumers. The Center also plans to improve the economic condition of local farmers by helping them form cooperative corporations to enhance their marketplace position.

Read the complete list of awards.

Categories: General