Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a number of programs during the National Rural Summit Thursday that will support rural America and create jobs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration and USDA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage sustainable growth and development of rural small businesses. The agreement's purpose is to reach out to those with underserved financial needs in rural areas and small communities; improve opportunities for small businesses; improve coordination in the delivery and development of programs; and increase the number of loans guaranteed by USDA and SBA.
Also announced was that the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant program would be providing $22.5 million for recipients in 45 states and Puerto Rico to receive business development grants. Recipients may use the funding for feasibility studies, business plans, working capital for marketing value-added ag products and for farm-based renewable energy products.
USDA Rural Development’s Intermediary Re-lending Program and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program will be providing $6.7 million in funding to 10 states. The funding promotes economic development and job creation through increased business lending. According to Vilsack the funds will establish revolving loan pools that will serve as resources for future businesses.
Also announced was that USDA is seeking applications to support the development and continuing success of rural micro-entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises. USDA Rural Development’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program is providing the funding, including loans and grants, to rural micro businesses and technical assistance grants to rural micro-borrowers. Applications must be received by July 16 for the 2010 fiscal year, in which $45.1 million are available. Vilsack says the program will help provide access to capital, business-based training and technical assistance to the smallest of small businesses.