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
Rutgers Food Innovation Center – $225,000
Farm To Table, Inc. – $142,382
Center of Southwest Culture – $150,000
North Carolina State University – $225,000
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
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
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).