San Juan Island farmers and agricultural businesses can look for a boost courtesy of a USDA Rural Development’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant program.
The Northwest Agriculture Business Center, in Mount Vernon received a $225,000 grant to improve the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative development and will assist individuals and entities in the startup, expansion, and operational improvement of rural businesses with a focus on cooperatives. Their focus is to improve the economic vitality of the agricultural industry within Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
In 2010 the center assisted in the introduction of a seasonal cider product line; a successful market expansion of milk products produced by a Whatcom County family-owned dairy; and a Whidbey Island cooperative effort for cattle producers to market their grass-fed beef to the local grocery market.
Thirty-six organizations in 26 states and the District of Columbia were selected for grants to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand, create jobs and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
“These grants help cooperatives support local projects and initiatives that create jobs and improve rural economic conditions,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “As we celebrate National Cooperative Month, USDA is proud to continue its support of local and regional efforts to bolster these cooperatives and help them bring increased value and economic opportunity to rural residents.”