HILO, Hawaii, Oct 25, 2013 -- Chris J. Kanazawa, State Director for USDA Rural Development, announced the selection of the Kohala Center, Inc., to receive a $151,913 Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG).
"Hawaii's small businesses play a key role in job growth and innovation in our rural communities. The SSDPG funding will jump start small socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by funding the tools they need to be successful producers," said Kanazawa. This effort is an example of President Obama's vision of strengthening the middle class in rural communities. The award to The Kohala Center will broaden the outreach into Hawaii's rural communities to ensure that small socially disadvantaged producers have access to this resource."
The grant will allow The Kohala Center to assist approximately 215 socially disadvantaged producers within 5 Cooperative groups (Makakuoha Cooperative, Palili 'O Kohala Cooperative, Maui Aquaponics Workers Cooperative, Kau Agricultural Water Cooperative District, Cho Global Natural Farming Cooperative). The Center will provide technical assistance training in equipment use, maintenance training, advanced Korean natural farming techniques, cooperative business skills, local direct marketing training and consultation, and conflict resolution.
"The Kohala Center is pleased to again be able to offer five Hawaii Agricultural Cooperatives trainings through this grant. The trainings this year will include Natural Farming, Organic Composting, Aquaponics, Business Skills, Conflict Resolution, Taro Farming, Poi Processing, and Co-op Membership for 215 farmers," says Melanie Bondera, The Kohala Center's Rural Cooperative Development Specialist.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
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.
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.
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