Providing technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities for Native food producers
Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) will establish the Intertribal Food Business Center—the only USDA food business center prioritizing Indian Country—to impact the greater food system nationwide. This investment in American Indian and Alaska Native communities directs resources toward healing broken food systems that have underserved and exploited Native peoples for centuries. There is a great need for a Native-led organization to create Native-serving food systems that cater to Native communities, and IAC is uniquely equipped to lead this effort.
The Intertribal Food Business Center will work to create new markets and expand current linkages throughout the supply chain to address challenges faced by Native food and farm businesses. IAC will partner with other Native organizations—including Akiptan, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative—to develop a coordinated national food system development plan that supports the growth and expansion of American Indian and Alaska Native food businesses. The focus will be on small- and mid-sized food and farm businesses, with more than 65% of the funding allocated for capacity-building awards.
Offerings of the Intertribal Food Business Center may be accessed by any Native producer. The Intertribal Food Business Center aims to be supportive and inclusive of the needs of Indian Country's food systems and food system stewards. Our intention is to serve food systems stewards who may identify as farmers, ranchers, fishers, gatherers, value-added food producers, food product aggregators, distributors, food business owners, and more. We will intentionally define our eligibility criteria to be inclusive in every way possible as we are aware of the historical exclusion from USDA funding support that Indian Country food systems stewards have endured.
The Regional Food Business Centers and the Intertribal Food Business Center offer Native producers the opportunity for both expanded Technical Assistance Support and Business Builder Awards. As a Native producer, you may receive Technical Assistance Support from both the Intertribal Food Business Center and your Regional Food Business Center. There is no limit to the amount of Technical Assistance Support you can pursue between the Centers. As a Native producer, you may seek Business Builder Awards from both the Intertribal Food Business Center and your Regional Food Business Center. The total Business Builder Awards received by a single entity cannot exceed $100,000 between both Centers.
Regional Centers are located in the following areas:
Uplift Native producers with increased investment and support
Developing the abilities, processes, and resources agribusinesses need to adapt
Create Native-serving food systems that cater to Native
“With over 35 years of experience in food and business development work, the Intertribal Agriculture Council is excited about this opportunity to expand access to Native food producers and Tribal food systems that empower self-determination in Indian Country. Our collaboration with the USDA in standing up the Intertribal Food Business Center will heal broken food systems and build sustainable economic growth for our communities.”
Kari Jo Lawrence
Chief Executive Officer, Intertribal Agriculture Council
What will the Centers be doing?
The Food Centers will have three main responsibilities:
Coordination - The Regional Food Centers will act as regional hubs coordinating across geographic areas, with USDA, other federal, state, and tribal agencies with relevant resources, regional commissions, and the other Regional Food Centers. They will conduct outreach to underserved communities and businesses.
Technical Assistance - The Regional Food Centers will provide direct business technical assistance to small- and mid-sized food and farm businesses (producers, processors, distributors, and other businesses within the food supply chain) and food value and supply chain coordination. Each Regional Food Center will identify priority areas for technical assistance (e.g., aggregation/distribution, specialty crop processing for institutions) for the region it plans to serve.
Capacity Building - The Regional Food Centers will provide financial assistance through business builder subawards up to $100,000 to support projects focused on emerging regional needs and businesses that are working towards expansion and other investment. These subawards may support staff time, business planning activities, software implementation, the purchase of equipment, such as food safety, processing and packaging equipment, value chain and supply chain coordination and innovation, product development, marketing, and other expenses as outlined in the RFA.
Our business is interested in the Business Builder awards. How can we learn more about them?
Businesses that are interested in applying for a capacity building subaward through an USDA Regional Food Business Center should directly contact the organization leading the Center that represents their respective geographical location. You can find a list of each organization that is leading a Center, along with a map demonstrating the regional coverage of each Center, on the Overview page of the Regional Food Business Center website. While subawards are critical components of all 12 Regional Food Business Centers, each Center is taking a slightly different approach to how businesses can apply for a subaward and how those subawards will be implemented. Therefore, it is important to connect with each Center directly about how to best proceed.
Find more FAQs at USDA's Regional Food Business Centers FAQ page.
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