Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks announced that USDA Rural Development approved a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $50,000 for South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension, Brookings.
Rural Development funds will be used to build capacity in South Dakota's local food system through the establishment of an online Local Foods Center which will create structured connections between local growers and resource providers. Today's announcement coincides with the annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference that is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and USDA Rural Development.
"This project provides the opportunity to bring their product to local communities and support economic growth in rural areas. It has been a USDA-wide focus to provide resources and support to American farmers and ranchers," said Meeks. "The Obama Administration is committed to improving the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. Supporting local and regional food systems provides an economic boost to rural communities in South Dakota."
"The online center will allow resource providers across the state to supply a collection of educational materials, including podcasts, learning modules, factsheets, and guides related to local food entrepreneurship, processing and production," said Chris Zdorovtsov, Community Development Field Specialist for SDSU Extension. Additionally, this grant will fund assistance to form one regional local food collaborative group.
In 2009, USDA created the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative to start the understanding of where food comes from and how it gets to the table. By increasing the capacity of local food producers through the online center, the health and vitality of the state is benefited.
For additional information on Rural Development projects, please visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.