The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to know how its Agriculture Innovation Center Program can better support farmers and rural businesses that sell value-added agricultural products, such as ethanol, jam, flour, or beef jerky.
The USDA Agricultural Innovation Center Program was created to stimulate economic development in rural areas by supporting producers of value-added agricultural products. Through the program, nonprofits, corporations, colleges/universities, federally recognized Native American tribes and public bodies can apply to become Agriculture Innovation Centers and win grants of up to $1 million. The funding must be used to help farmers and rural businesses develop and market products by providing specific resources like legal and financial advisory services. The program currently has $7.4 million in funding.
The USDA is now seeking feedback on how to improve the program, including the application process and deadlines, program requirements and the types of services eligible for funding.