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News Release

Release No. 0505.10
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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

Announcement is part of National Cooperative Month Observance

USDA National Cooperative Month

2010 Coop Month Proclamation

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2010 - Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today 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 Cooperative 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 today 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 $142,382 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.

The following is a complete list of organizations that have been selected to receive Rural Cooperative Development Grants. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.


University of Alaska Anchorage – $225,000


Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund – $225,000


Winrock International – $224,984


California Center for Cooperative Development – $225,000


Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Educational & Charitable Foundation – $225,000


The Kohala Center Inc. – $222,555


Western Illinois University – $183,898


Indiana Cooperative Development Center – $225,000


Iowa State University – $225,000


Kentucky Center for Agriculture & Rural Development – $225,000


Cooperative Development Institute – $225,000


Michigan State University – $225,000


North Country Cooperative Foundation – $225,000

Food Co-op Initiative – $225,000

Latino Economic Development Center – $225,000

Agricultural Utilization Research Institute – $225,000


Mississippi Association of Cooperatives – $225,000


Lake County Community Development Corporation – $114,580

Montana Cooperative Development Center – $225,000


University of Nebraska-Lincoln – $224,982

New Jersey

Rutgers Food Innovation Center – $225,000

New Mexico

Farm To Table, Inc. – $142,382

Center of Southwest Culture – $150,000

North Carolina

North Carolina State University – $225,000

North Dakota

Common Enterprise Development Corporation – $225,000

North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives – $225,000


Kent State University – $225,000

The Ohio State University – $224,998

National Network of Forest Practitioners – $225,000


Keystone Development Center – $225,000

South Dakota

Value-Added Agriculture Development Center – $225,000


University of Texas-Pan American – $225,000


Virginia FAIRS – $225,000

Cooperative Development Foundation – $225,000


Northwest Agriculture Business Center – $225,000

Northwest Cooperative Development Center – $225,000

Washington, D.C.

National Cooperative Business Association – $221,315


Cooperative Development Services Inc. – $225,000

USDA is providing $8.3 million in today's announcement. Rural Cooperative Development Grants are made to improve economic conditions in rural areas by developing new cooperatives and improving the operations of existing cooperatives.

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).