Last week, USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of loan and grant funds to support rural microenterprises. Many CCOF operations fit the profiles of what could be funded under this micro-granting program.
USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are defined as rural businesses with ten or fewer employees. About $12.2 million will be provided to eligible applicants this year. Under the program, USDA may provide loans of up to $500,000 to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs). They, in turn, make microloans for business start-up or development to eligible microentrepreneurs who are unable to obtain conventional credit elsewhere.
RMAP applications are due by September 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the August 14, 2013, Federal Register, or by contacting any USDA Rural Development state office.
This RMAP funding is left over from the 2008 Farm Bill. However, this program would not be funded were it not for the surplus of funds from the last farm bill, as RMAP is one of the many programs that has been left out of the current farm bill extension. If you’d like to follow and weigh-in on the progress of the farm bill, check out our partner the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which offers an interactive up to date tracking system for the legislation. You can also sign up for our action alerts to receive recommendations for action to be taken on behalf of organic agriculture!