USDA creates 12 regional centers, announces $420M in project funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created 12 new regional food business centers to provide national coordination and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and other food businesses in accessing new markets and navigating federal, state and local resources.
The UDSA also announced a $420 million Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program to fund innovative projects in processing and distribution capacity. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will partner with state and territories’ agriculture departments for this program.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to transforming our food system to one that offers new market opportunities to small and mid-sized farming operations through a strengthened local and regional food system,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “The regional food business centers, along with investments through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program, will 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.”
In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million to fund the regional food business center initiative, and 12 organizations were selected to lead regional efforts. The centers will link producers to wholesalers and distributors in an effort to strengthen connections between rural and urban areas.
The 12 centers and lead organizations are:
- Appalachia USDA Regional Food Business Center, Rural Action Inc.
- Delta USDA Regional Food Business Center, Mississippi Delta Council for Farmworker Opportunities
- Great Lakes Midwest USDA Regional Food Business Center, Michigan State University
- Heartland USDA Regional Food Business Center, University of Nebraska
- National Intertribal Food Business Center, Intertribal Agriculture Council
- Island and Remote Areas USDA Regional Food Business Center, Hawaii Good Food Alliance
- North Central USDA Regional Food Business Center, Region Five Development Commission
- Northeast USDA Regional Food Business Center, NASDA Foundation
- Northwest and Rocky Mountain USDA Regional Food Business Center, Colorado State University
- Rio Grande Colonias USDA Regional Food Business Center, Texas A&M AgriLife
- Southeast USDA Regional Food Business Center, Georgia Minority Outreach Network
- Southwest USDA Regional Food Business Center, University of California
“USDA recognizes that local and regional food systems are essential to the overall food supply chain and the new regional food business centers are the cornerstone of our efforts to support them,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The resources and diverse knowledge offered through the Centers will make the opportunities available through dozens of USDA programs more accessible to small and mid-sized producers and food and farm businesses.”
More information is available on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Regional Food Business Centers Program webpage.