USDA Under Secretary, Stabenow announce new food business center

The Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center is being established at Michigan State University to support small and mid-sized food and farm businesses.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt tells Brownfield $20 million will help farmers across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin navigate the food system.

“To be able to address some of those issues in the middle of the supply chain, so it might be funding for the farmer or the food producer to be able to get their product ready for market, it might also be things like addressing some distribution or food hubs,” she explains.

Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow tells Brownfield more than half of the funds will be used for technical assistance and small grants.

“It’s the really the connector between what’s being grown and where it’s being grown and how we can help the local business or government institutions or schools or others that want to buy locally to be able to do it,” she shares.

The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems is one of twelve organizations selected to host regional centers across the U.S.

Michigan State University officials Monday also announced the university plans to waive overhead fees associated with the grant programs.

Small- to mid-sized and historically marginalized food and farm business owners will be prioritized for business builder awards. 

The Chicago Food Policy Action Council (IL), Northwest Indiana Food Council (IN), Food Finance Institute of the University of Wisconsin System (WI), and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Food Systems are also partners in the five-year project.

Brownfield interviewed officials during the announcement on MSU’s campus Monday.

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