The Kerr Center has stepped up as a key partner in a new USDA Regional Food Business Center for the Heartland region, comprising Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
The University of Nebraska – Lincoln was the lead applicant on this USDA-funded program, with the Kerr Center one of several key partners.
The USDA announced the creation of the 12 Regional Food Business Centers (RFBCs) in early May. Each RFBC will provide national coverage 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 to fund this initiative, and 12 organizations were selected to lead efforts in their region and together serve all areas of the country. The RFBCs will support producers by providing localized assistance to access a variety of markets, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors.
By strengthening connections between rural and urban areas, the RFBCs will drive economic opportunities across the region, creating a more diversified and resilient food system. Collectively, the organizations selected to lead each RFBC reflect an impressive cross-section of the varied institutions, organizations, and associations that must cooperate to achieve genuinely strong and distributed food systems.
These organizations are engaging with grassroots food and farm organizations and employing a range of creative strategies to build food system resiliency. RFBCs will target their work to historically underinvested communities in their region.
Lead Organization Selected for Each Center:
- Appalachia USDA Regional Food Business Center, Rural Action Inc.
- Delta USDA Regional Food Business Center, Mississippi Delta Council for Farmworker Opportunities
- Great Lakes Midwest USDA Regional Food Business Center, Michigan State University
- Heartland USDA Regional Food Business Center, University of Nebraska
- National Intertribal Food Business Center, Intertribal Agriculture Council
- Island and Remote Areas USDA Regional Food Business Center, Hawaii Good Food Alliance
- North Central USDA Regional Food Business Center, Region Five Development Commission
- Northeast USDA Regional Food Business Center, NASDA Foundation
- Northwest and Rocky Mountain USDA Regional Food Business Center, Colorado State University
- Rio Grande Colonias USDA Regional Food Business Center, Texas A&M AgriLife
- Southeast USDA Regional Food Business Center, Georgia Minority Outreach Network
- Southwest USDA Regional Food Business Center, University of California