News Release
Release No.STELPRD4017873
ContactDeborah Callahan706-546-2162
Bloomingdale, GA, Aug 15, 2012 --

@@The head of USDA Rural Development’s business and cooperative programs met with Georgia agribusiness leaders to discuss ways USDA is expanding the business of local foods through the development of strong local and regional food systems.

“One thing to keep in mind when talking about expanding the business of local foods is that we must first assess the demand in target regions,” said John Padalino, Acting Administrator of USDA’s Rural Business and Cooperative Service. “Supporting local and regional food systems will provide an economic boost to rural communities throughout Georgia.”

A panel discussion was moderated by Rural Development Georgia State Director Quinton Robinson. Robinson spoke about ways USDA can support the expansion of local foods, and develop urban and rural partnerships to improve access to retail foods. Agribusiness leaders also learned about opportunities available through Rural Development’s Business and Cooperative Programs.

Rural Development is committed to the future and success of local and regional food systems throughout Georgia. Funding local foods infrastructure such as farmers’ markets boosts the local economy. For example, in July 2012, the City of Sylvester received a Rural Business Enterprise Grant for $25,000 to fund the Downtown Sylvester Farmers Market. The Farmers Market will expand and revitalize downtown by creating a central hub for local farmers and vendors to sell locally grown fruits, vegetables, arts and crafts. 

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.