Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center: USDA Selects Colorado State University and Oregon State University to Create USDA Regional Food Business Center
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the finalists for the USDA Regional Food Business Centers (Regional Food Centers). Organizations, including a partnership of Colorado State University and Oregon State University, have been selected as finalists to establish Regional Food Centers that will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources, thereby closing the gaps to success. In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million available to fund this initiative.
Pending an Administrative Review, USDA and Colorado State University and Oregon State University will enter into a cooperative agreement to establish the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center that will serve Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.
The network will be awarded resources to elevate the connections, technical assistance, and capacity of a diverse and inclusive set of farm and food-based enterprises operating in local and regional food supply chains. The primary goal of the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center is to leverage the expertise, resources, and networks of partners to create a resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem of stakeholders engaged in small and mid-tier food and farm business development for the six-state region.
“USDA looks forward to partnering with Colorado State University and Oregon State University on this innovative and unprecedented initiative,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “By leveraging the expertise soon to be available through these Regional Food Centers, USDA will be able to offer unique support for local food systems development across the country.”
Collectively, the finalist organizations selected reflect an impressive cross-section of the varied institutions, organizations, and associations that must cooperate to achieve genuinely strong and distributed food systems. Colorado State University and Oregon State University and the other finalist organizations already engage with grassroots food and farm organizations and employ a range of creative and collaborative strategies to build food system resiliency in their regions.
In total, USDA will establish 12 Regional Food Business Centers that will serve all areas of the country. Regional Food Business Centers will target their work to communities in their region.
The Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center will work with partners, targeting historically underinvested communities in their region, to coordinate within and across states to develop, refine, and deliver professional development and technical assistance programs and invest in those participating enterprises who use programs to create new, updated or refined, and innovative plans to build their capacity in those local and regional markets.
The Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center will target four areas of core need within the region including:
- Resilient animal protein supply chains
- Food entrepreneurs seeking to scale up,
- farms leveraging opportunities aligned with emerging climate resilient markets, and
- right-sized infrastructure and investment.
The Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center will serve as the central node for the region’s small and mid-tier food and farm business development initiatives by supporting resilient multi-sector and cross-regional collaborative networks, providing timely and relevant data and analysis for market access and development, and serving as a gateway and navigator for USDA programs and funding as well as other third-party funding sources.
To find out more about the Center, sign up here (https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/tYg6rYT/NWRegFoodCenter) to receive project updates and more.