Consider that your daily dose of bureaucrat-ese, but also consider that it’s $400 million we’re talking about. USDA anticipates handing out as many as 150 grants, with a ceiling of $20 million for individual applicants. Based on past experience, that means that the grants will average about $4 to $5 million, with somewhere around 75 to 90 awards.
No disrespect to the folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation, or Georgetown University, but 100 awards at $4 million a pop trumps a check for $30,000—plus a large, shiny trophy—each and every day of the week.
Government programs certainly don’t qualify as the silver bullet that can cure the economic all the ills of rural America. But they remain lights years ahead of most private-sector programs in terms of the sheer scale of their potential impact.
And like several other things in life, with economic development funds, size does matter. □
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.