The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced finalists for the USDA Regional Food Business Centers (Regional Food Centers). Twelve organizations, including Region Five Development Commission (R5DC), have been selected as finalists to establish Regional Food Centers that will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources, thereby closing the gaps to success. In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million available to fund this initiative.
Pending an Administrative Review, USDA and R5DC will enter into a cooperative agreement to establish a North Central Regional Food Business Center, which will serve Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
“USDA looks forward to partnering with Region Five Development Commission on this innovative and unprecedented initiative,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “By leveraging the expertise soon to be available through these Regional Food Centers, USDA can offer unique support for local food systems development across the country.”
“This is an extremely exciting opportunity to build on multi-state assets, honor our environmental stewardship commitments and serve the agricultural economy with an intentional focus on underserved small to mid-sized food value-chain businesses,” shared R5DC Executive Director Cheryal Hills. “The group of partners who have come together to make this happen is a dream team, and we are grateful for this incredible investment to strengthen food businesses in the North Central US three-state region.”
Collectively, the finalist organizations selected reflect an impressive cross-section of the varied institutions, organizations, and associations that must cooperate to achieve genuinely strong and distributed food systems. Region Five Development Commission and the other finalist organizations are already engaging with grassroots food and farm organizations and employing a range of creative strategies to build food system resiliency in their regions.
In total, USDA will establish 12 Regional Food Business Centers that will serve all areas of the country. Regional Food Centers will target their work to historically underinvested communities in their region.
More information is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Regional Food Business Centers webpage and on regionfive.org/rfbc.