Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $452 million in loan guarantees to assist 130 rural businesses through funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funding is being made available through USDA Rural Development's Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program.
Altogether, $1.7 billion is available to businesses across the country through Recovery Act Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program funding.
"A number of the Recovery Act funds announced today are supporting USDA's 'Know Your Farmer Know, Your Food Initiative' by providing capital to rural business that support and market locally produced foods in communities throughout the country," says Vilsack. "We can revitalize rural communities and spur economic opportunity by building infrastructure to strengthen local food systems and creating a stronger link between local food production and local consumption."
USDA's “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative was launched in September. It emphasizes the need for a fundamental and critical reconnection between producers and consumers and includes such major agricultural topics as supporting local farmers and community food groups, strengthening rural communities, enhancing direct marketing and farmers' promotion programs, promoting healthy eating; protecting natural resources and helping schools connect with locally grown foods.