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North Dakota Ag News Headlines
USDA Funds Regional Food Business Center for Small and Mid-Sized Ag Enterprises
North Dakota Ag Connection - 05/26/2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is undertaking an initiative to expand small and mid-sized agricultural food and supply chains across the country, with a focus on enhancing local meat, fruit, and vegetable processing businesses.

Under this program, each region in the United States will have a designated regional food business center. Among the selected organizations to lead these efforts, North Dakota Farmers Union has been chosen to spearhead the MiNKota Regional Food Business Center, representing North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The center will receive a portion of the $400 million in funding allocated for this endeavor.

The establishment of regional food centers does not necessarily involve physical infrastructure. Instead, the emphasis is on educational programs and collaboration among various stakeholders. The North Dakota Farmers Union, along with its partners—the Minnesota Farmers Union and the South Dakota Farmers Union—will facilitate educational initiatives and facilitate cooperation among farmers, ranchers, and other relevant groups. The goal is to develop local processing capabilities, foster local food concepts, and strengthen local food supply chains.

The regional center will provide farmers and ranchers with valuable insights on remaining competitive and exploring alternative marketing avenues. The focus will be on niche markets and promoting local and regional demand for agricultural products. Additionally, efforts will be made to enhance food processing capacity, supporting the growth of small-scale meat processing facilities and similar enterprises.

It is important to note that success in this venture requires more than simply entering the market. To thrive, participants must remain competitive, develop effective marketing channels, and cultivate a loyal customer base. The regional food business center represents a significant step towards achieving these goals and fostering the development of a robust local and regional food economy.

By investing in local and regional food systems, the USDA aims to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of agricultural supply chains while providing consumers with greater access to locally produced goods. This initiative aligns with broader efforts to promote a more diverse and resilient agricultural sector across the United States.

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