The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced it is a key partner in a new national initiative developed to help farmers and food businesses access new markets and available federal, state, and local resources, such as technical assistance and funding opportunities. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation $30 million to establish a Regional Food Business Center that serves the agricultural industry across the Northeast. Additional partners in the initiative include Buffalo Go Green and Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA).
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “We’re excited to be a part of this exciting and forward-thinking initiative, along with our partners at NASDA, CREA and Buffalo Go Green. The Department is dedicated to building a more resilient food supply chain for New York’s agricultural community and its consumers, developing a number of programs over the years to bridge the gaps in the food system. The Northeast Regional Food Business Center is a tremendous step in these efforts, helping New York and its neighboring states provide targeted resources to our farmers and food businesses and increase the capacity of regional supply chains.”
NASDA Foundation Senior Director Chris Jones said, “The NASDA Foundation is thrilled to bring together state departments of agriculture in the Northeast and public-private partners Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement and Buffalo Go Green to build the USDA Northeast Regional Food Business Center. Collaborative partnerships and aligned efforts will enable a more resilient food system and focused support for local communities in the Northeast.”
CREA’s Director of Food and Ag Innovation Programs Jenn Smith said, “We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with NASDA, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Buffalo Go Green to build the Northeast Regional Food Business Center. CREA fuels economic growth and diversity through entrepreneurship and innovation; providing the agricultural community in the Northeast with entrepreneurial support and pathways to technical assistance will lay a foundation for the increased sustainability of its farms and food businesses. We are inspired by the vision of a strengthened regional food system that we share with our partners.”
Buffalo Go Green Executive Director Allison DeHonney said, “Buffalo Go Green is excited to partner with New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, CREA and NASDA Foundation in creating a Regional Food Business Center that will provide both technical and financial assistance to food and farming businesses across the Northeast. We are seeing so many technological advancements in agriculture and creative and innovative changes in food businesses; so, creating a business center that will support these advancements and prioritizes diversity equity and inclusion will only strengthen our local, state, and regional food system!”
The funding will be divided between two grant programs that will be provided to sub awardees in the areas of Technical Assistance and Capacity Building. The goal of these grant programs will be to expand agricultural production and processing, increase the amount of regionally grown products, create new products, encourage the development of food hubs, and strengthen the food supply chain. NASDA’s Regional Food Business Center will also focus on outreach and inclusion of its services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in the agricultural industry.
The states that are included in the Northeast service area include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Maryland.
The Center will be established and perform outreach to stakeholders in the coming year and will announce the availability of funding and technical assistance resources as they become available.
USDA will establish 12 Regional Food Business Centers across the US that will serve all areas of the country. Regional Food Centers will target their work to historically underinvested communities in their region. In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million available to fund this initiative.