U S D A / Rural Development
Washington, D.C.  20250-0705

News Release2002 Farm Bill Logo (farm building encircled by stars and stripes)

Contact: Taylor Oldroyd
(202) 720-1019
toldroyd@rdmail.rural.usda.gov

USDA TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETING ON AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION CENTER DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM

Information gathered will be considered for new Farm Bill program

     WASHINGTON, D.C., July 11, 2002--The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced its Rural Business-Cooperative Service, will hold a public meeting for interested persons to express their views on implementing the new Agricultural Innovation Center Demonstration Program.

     "Expanding business opportunities in rural areas and increasing farmers income is an important priority for USDA and the Bush Administration. The Agricultural Innovation Center Demonstration Program will go a long way toward helping farmers realize their full income potential through the development of value added enterprises," said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Mike Neruda.

     The Agriculture Innovation Center Demonstration Program, created with the recent passage of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, will provide farmers with sound technical, financial, and business advice as they consider new value added enterprises. Not more than five centers will be established in the first year of the program; and not more than ten in the second year.

     The meeting will be held July 31, 2002, between the hours of 9 am and 4:30 pm (EST). The location will be Room 107-A, Jamie Whitten Building, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC. Those interested in making a presentation at the meeting should send a written request to Wendy Dotson, Office of the Deputy Administrator for Cooperative Services, Room 4016, Stop 3250, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250. Written comments can be accepted through August 6, 2002. Further information on the meeting can also be obtained from the July 11, 2002 edition of the Federal Register.

     USDA Rural Development serves as the lead federal entity for rural development needs and administers financial and technical assistance through three agencies: Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service and Rural Utilities Service. Further information on USDA Rural Development can be obtained by contacting any USDA Service Center or by visiting USDA's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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