Northwest Agriculture Business Center Receives USDA Funding for Regional Food System Development

NABC and PSFN have received some good news! The PSFN project will be funded for the next two years with new Value Added Producer Grant funding from the USDA.

February 28, 2012 (Mt Vernon, WA) The Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) has been awarded $300,000 in Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Funding will provide working capital for NABC’s Puget Sound Food Network (PSFN) project for two years.

“This is a strong vote of confidence for NABC and the Puget Sound Food Network project,” says Lucy Norris, Director of Marketing and leader of Puget Sound Food Network. “Since the project launched in 2009, we have worked tirelessly towards building a self-sustaining food system that mobilizes businesses and institutions, aids underserved communities and increases the profitability of farmers in Northwest Washington.”

The USDA announced $40.2 million in grant funds nationwide to support business plans, working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants included independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Value-added products are created when a producer increases the consumer value of an agricultural commodity in the production or processing stage. NABC received the top-level grant amount awarded to any one organization or business.

The funding will support services for PSFN members including strategic consulting services, sales representation, wholesale markets, other technical assistance and value-added marketing services for independent producers, aggregators, processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, hospitals, schools and others.  PSFN will also implement an on-line transaction system that provides back-office management and communications infrastructure for independent producers to initiate direct sales.  PSFN will continue assisting producer-owned cooperatives and regional food hub developments to increase the direct purchase of local food by institutional meal sites and increase healthy food access to low-income seniors and preschools. “PSFN will continue focusing on building lasting relationships between independent producers and buyers that lead to more profitable businesses, job growth and farmland preservation in the region,” says Norris.

Awards were announced on February 3, by USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan’s office.  The full announcement is at http://usda.gov. Support and matching funds for NABC programs come from the Washington State Department of Commerce, as well as agricultural industry supporters, our communities who share our mission and values.

Contact: Lucy Norris, Director of Marketing, Northwest Agriculture Business Center: 360-336-3666 / lucy@psfn.org

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