Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food – Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG) | USDA
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Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG)

Type: Grants

Max Award: $200,000 with a 25% cost-sharing requirement.

Big Idea: Rural Cooperative Development Grants support rural economic development through the creation or improvement of cooperative development centers. Cooperative development centers in turn provide assistance for starting up, improving, or expanding rural businesses, especially cooperatives.

Who Can Apply: Non-profit organizations; for the purposes of this program, cooperative development centers must primarily serve "rural areas," where the population does not exceed 50,000, or is next to a city or town with more than 50,000 people.

Possibilities: Rural Cooperative Development Grants support a broad range of activities, including:

  • New and beginning farmer training;
  • Marketing and feasibility studies;
  • Business development assistance;
  • Outreach

Real example: Farm to Table, a non-profit organization in New Mexico, received $142,382 through RCDG to partner with La-Montanita, a member-owned food hub, to develop and distribute a curriculum for best practices on food system cooperative development as well as to provide workshops throughout the state to assist cooperatives in different stages of development. Farm to Table also partnered with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to develop models for using the cooperative structure to address three crucial challenges facing local food system development: meat processing infrastructure, food safety, and food storage/transportation.

Get more information: For more program information, please visit Rural Development's Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program page, and to apply for any USDA Rural Development program contact your state or local office.