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Federal

Federal Programs:

The Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program provides guarantees on loans made by private lenders to help new and existing businesses in rural areas gain access to affordable capital. By issuing a guarantee, USDA essentially co-signs the loan with the recipient, lowering the lender’s risk and allowing for more favorable interest rates and terms. The 2008 Farm Bill placed a special emphasis on supporting businesses that facilitate the processing, distribution, aggregation, storing, and marketing of locally or regionally produced foods. For more information, go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_gar.html

Rural Business Enterprise Grants fund projects that facilitate the development of small and emerging rural businesses, distance learning networks, and employment-related adult education programs. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_rbeg.html

Rural Business Opportunity Grants support training and technical assistance for business development and regional economic development planning. Collaborative economic planning and development through regional food systems is a specific focus. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RBOG.html

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program supports small business development in rural areas. Loans and grants are provided to Microenterprise Development Organizations which in turn provide loans and technical assistance to microentrepreneurs—including farmers—for developing their businesses. Loans may be used for working capital, debt refinancing, business acquisitions, and to purchase equipment or real estate, and grants support technical assistance and training. Nonprofit organizations, tribes, and public institutions of higher education that serve rural areas are eligible Microenterprise Development Organizations. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RMAP.html

Value Added Producer Grants support planning activities, such as business plan development, and provide working capital for value-added processing and marketing which helps farmers and ranchers receive a higher portion of the retail dollar. Specific funds are available for projects that focus on local and regional supply networks and support beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and small- or medium-sized farms and ranches. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants.html

Community Food Projects, supported by grants to nonprofit organizations, are designed to increase community food security by assessing strengths, establishing linkages, and creating systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs. For more information go to www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/communityfoodprojects.cfm

The Farmers' Market Promotion Program provides grants to help communities support direct producer-to-consumer opportunities such as farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture, and agritourism. Grants increase access to local foods by low-income consumers, allow growers to market their products directly to consumers, and raise awareness of local products through promotion Colorado, courtesy of NRCS and outreach. For more information click here.

The Rural Energy for America Program provides loan guarantees and grants to agricultural producers and small businesses in rural areas to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems; make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities; use renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption; and participate in energy audits, renewable energy development assistance, and feasibility studies. For more information go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/Energy.html

Other Federal-level resources:

The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Guide to Resources and Funding for Community and Faith-based Organizations informs the public about the wide range of programs and resources provided by ACF. The Guide contains an overview of the agency, basic information about finding and applying for federal funds, specific information about ACF’s grant opportunities, and numerous resources and toolkits available for any community or faith-based organization. For more information go to http://www.hhs.gov/partnerships/resources/acfguidecfbosmay2012.pdf

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