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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • USDA seeks grant applications to help rural co-ops

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that grant applications are currently being accepted from qualified non-profit organizations and educational facilities to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services.
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  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that grant applications are currently being accepted from qualified non-profit organizations and educational facilities to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services.
    “This funding is part of the Obama administration’s effort to ensure the development of a rural economy built to last. This program supports business development services for rural cooperatives,” Vilsack said.
    “These funds will promote start up, expansion and operational improvements as cooperatives work to grow and strengthen their businesses and provide sustainable, well-paying jobs to rural residents," Vilsack added.
    USDA is offering Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG) to non-profit corporations and institutions of higher education.
    The grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create business plans, help rural cooperatives develop markets and provide training for cooperative leadership.
    Grants are awarded competitively on an annual basis to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which in turn provide technical assistance to individuals and cooperatives.
    “Often rural cooperatives have great ideas for businesses, but need assistance in developing the idea or finding markets for products,” said Missouri USDA – Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning. “This program allows organizations and colleges the opportunity to seek funds to assist rural cooperatives develop and enlarge their markets. Rural cooperatives have insight into the product assets of an area and can develop programs to enhance and bolster the local economy.”
    Through this notice, USDA may award up to $6.5 million in grants. The deadline for paper applications is July 15. Electronic copies are due July 10.
    For information on how to apply, see page 30848 of the May 23, 2013, Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-23/html/2013-12329.htm or contact the USDA Rural Development Missouri State Office at 573-876-9321.
    Individual grants of up to $200,000 are available. Grants may be used to pay for up to 75 percent (95 percent when the applicant is a 1994 Land Grant Institution) of the project's cost. Recipients are required to match 25 percent (5 percent for 1994 Land Grant Institutions) of the award amount.
    The RCDG program and other USDA business and cooperate development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities.
    Business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53,000 rural jobs and helped almost 10,000 rural business owners or farmers improve their enterprises in 2012.
    For example, in Rolla, Missouri Incutech Foundation received a $96,000 RCDG in 2012 to establish a Missouri Cooperative Development Center to focus on assisting and joining rural agriculture producers and purchasers.
    The center has sponsored training and workshops on the requirements for agriculture producers as it relates to retail/wholesale grocery markets and local farm fresh produce.
    As a result of the training and workshops, Circle B Ranch in Seymour has been able to grow their product lines and establish new markets from their pastured heritage breed pork. Missouri Incutech Foundation has leveraged RCDG funds to help drive the local food economy in central and southwest Missouri.
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