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USDA Local Food Initiatives

Rural Development (RD) Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to support communities as they build local and regional food systems.

Here are some programs relevant to this effort that are part of USDA Rural Development

Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program (B&I)

Helps new and existing businesses based in rural areas gain access to affordable capital, USDA provides guarantees on loans made by private lenders. By issuing a guarantee, USDA essentially co-signs the loan with the loan recipient, lowering the lender's risk and allowing for more favorable interest rates and terms.

Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program

Provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings.

Rural Business Development Grants

Supports targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program

Improves the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on Grants.gov.

Value Added Producer Grants

Helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based, value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the goals of this program. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative, or are proposing a mid-tier value chain. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on Grants.gov.