Ft. Pierre, Nov 02, 2012 -- Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks announced that USDA Rural Development approved a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000 for South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension, Brookings, SD.
Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Today’s announcement coincides with the annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference that is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and USDA Rural Development.
“This project provides the opportunity to bring their product to local communities and support economic growth in rural areas. It has been a USDA-wide focus to provide resources and support to American farmers and ranchers,” said Meeks. “The Obama Administration is committed to improving the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. Supporting local and regional food systems provides an economic boost to rural communities in South Dakota.”
“The online center will allow resource providers across the state to supply a collection of educational materials, including podcasts, learning modules, factsheets, and guides related to local food entrepreneurship, processing and production,” said Chris Zdorovtsov, Community Development Field Specialist for SDSU Extension. Additionally, this grant will fund assistance to form one regional local food collaborative group.
In 2009, USDA created the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative to start the understanding of where food comes from and how it gets to the table. By increasing the capacity of local food producers through the online center, the health and vitality of the state is benefited.
For additional information on Rural Development projects, please visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Rural Council is working to break down silos of information and to find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in administering government programs and to work closer with local tribal and non-tribal governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support to enhance the services offered to rural beneficiaries. Under Secretary Vilsack's leadership, USDA has instituted a comprehensive plan to strengthen the Department as a model service provider and to ensure that every farmer and rancher is treated equally and fairly as part of "a new era of civil rights" at USDA. He and President Obama have made it a priority to resolve all of the past civil rights cases facing the Department.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 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.