USDA to Establish New Regional Food Business Centers

Brian GermanAgri-Business, USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is establishing new Regional Food Business Centers. A total of 12 finalists have been named as leads for the new resource centers. The effort is designed to support farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses to access new markets and navigate other available resources. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the centers “create new and expanded local market opportunities which will improve farm income, create good paying jobs and build greater resilience in our overall food system.”

Food Business Centers

The Regional Food Business Centers will provide localized assistance in a variety of areas, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors. USDA is investing $400 million as part of the nationwide effort. Overall, the Centers will support economic opportunities and a more diversified food system. The lead organization for the Southwest USDA Regional Food Business Center is the University of California (UC). The effort in the Southwest will serve California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

“It is so exciting to see 16 organizations, across four states, coming together with us to enhance and expand much-needed business support services to our food and farm businesses,” UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston said in a news release. “Our strategy of quickly scaling existing successful programs offers quick returns on this investment, as does a focus on ensuring service for disadvantaged and historically underrepresented communities of producers, farmers and agrifood businesses.”

The Regional Food Business Centers will engage with stakeholders for the development and implementation of technical assistance and capacity building. Each Center will identify priority areas for the provision of direct business assistance to small- and mid-sized food and farm businesses. Additionally, the Centers will provide subawards of up to $100,000 to support regional projects. Awards will be applied to projects supporting activities including food safety, value chain coordination, and business planning activities.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West