Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the award of more than $3.6 million to help Rural Cooperative Development Centers improve the economic condition of rural areas in 18 states.
The University of Nebraska received $199,788 that will be administered by the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center to provide technical assistance to cooperative groups that have established businesses or are emerging business opportunities. Funds will strengthen horizontal linkages among cooperative groups, further the development of the Certified First Response Team network and will foster cooperative development education and outreach.
"These funds will help strengthen the rural economy and assist farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners across the nation in establishing and marketing cooperatives," Johanns says. "Rural Cooperative Development Centers are important to our efforts to support rural America's entrepreneurs."
Grants are being awarded to nonprofit corporations and institutions of higher education to finance up to 75% of the cost of establishing and operating Centers for Cooperative Development.
USDA Rural Development's Cooperative Program helps rural residents form new cooperative businesses and improve the operations of existing cooperatives. To accomplish this, Cooperative Programs provide technical assistance, conduct cooperative-related research, and produce informational materials to promote public understanding of cooperatives. Since 2001, the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program has awarded 146 grants totaling $35.7 million.