USDA Selects MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to Create Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center
CRFS will receive $20 million to launch this Regional Food Center with key partners in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This includes the Menominee Indian Tribe Department of Agriculture and Food Systems who will provide tribal coordination.
- M. Jahi Johnson-Chappell, Director of Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Colleen Matts, Director, Farm to Institution Programs, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, email@example.com
East Lansing, MI, May 10, 2023 - Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems is one of twelve organizations selected as a finalist by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a Regional Food Business Center (Regional Food Center). These Centers will help more farm and food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources. In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million available to fund this initiative.
“USDA is excited to be partnering with CRFS on this innovative and unprecedented initiative,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “By leveraging the expertise now available through these Regional Food Centers, USDA can offer unique support for local food systems development across the country.”
Pending an Administrative Review, USDA and CRFS will enter into a cooperative agreement to establish the Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center (GLM-RFBC). Over the next five years, CRFS will receive $20 million to launch and coordinate this center with key partners in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. This includes the Menominee Indian Tribe Department of Agriculture and Food Systems who will provide tribal coordination throughout the area. Over $10 million will be distributed directly to technical assistance providers and eligible business owners. Small- to mid-sized and historically marginalized food and farm business owners will be prioritized for business builder awards.
The key partners will serve as Network Coordinators for their respective geographic areas: 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. CRFS will also serve as the Coordinator for Michigan.
“We are honored and delighted at this opportunity to provide a historic level of support to communities, organizations, and entrepreneurs across the Great Lakes Midwest region,” CRFS Director M. Jahi Johnson-Chappell said. “We look forward to working together with our esteemed and dedicated partners to get these resources to those on the ground who best know what needs to be done to build strong and equitable food systems.”
Throughout this five-year project, the GLM-RFBC will coordinate a regional network of technical assistance providers that are dedicated to the sustainable success of farm and food businesses. Technical assistance will include business coaching, increasing profitability, accessing new markets, and connecting with resources across the region. This will develop the resiliency of local and regional food systems with more thriving businesses owned by people from underserved communities.
"Diverse producers will get more opportunities to grow and thrive as part of this collaboration,” said Rodger Cooley, Executive Director of Chicago Food Policy Action Council. “We are excited to learn from our committed partners across the region while getting needed funding and knowledge to less resourced producers and other food system sectors in Illinois.”
Nationwide, CRFS and the other selected organizations are already engaging with grassroots food organizations. These finalists reflect the varied institutions, organizations, and associations that must cooperate to achieve genuinely strong and distributed food systems.
“The collaborations and funding these Centers provide around supporting a more resilient, diverse, and competitive food system will create great opportunity for food-focused businesses across Wisconsin,” said Acting Director of the Food Finance Institute of the University of Wisconsin System Sarah Larson. “We are thrilled to deepen this work with CRFS stewarding the region forward.”
In total, USDA will establish 12 Regional Food Business Centers that will serve all areas of the country, including one center that will serve tribes nationwide. Regional Food Centers will target their work to historically underinvested communities in their region.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
The Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) unites the knowledge of diverse food systems stakeholders with that of MSU faculty and staff to advance regionally-rooted food systems through applied research, education, and outreach. Our work fosters a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for Michigan, the nation, and the planet by increasing understanding of and engagement with systems that produce food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable. Learn more at http://foodsystems.msu.edu/.