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USDA Business Technical Assistance Organizational Sign-on Letter

May 27, 2021

Dear Secretary Vilsack, As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has had substantial impacts on farm andfood businesses across the nation, from farms and ranches to food hubs and processing facilities.

May 24, 2021

The Honorable Tom Vilsack

Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has had substantial impacts on farm andfood businesses across the nation, from farms and ranches to food hubs and processing facilities. Some saw their markets disappear overnight, requiring that they rapidly pivot to reach new customers, while others saw demand skyrocket beyond their capacity.The pandemic has underscored the need to better equip these businesses–especially those serving local and regional markets–to capitalize on new opportunities, create jobs, and achieve a more resilient food system.

Given this critical need, we are writing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set aside $300 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, to dramatically scale up one-on-one business technical assistance for small and midsized farm and food businesses. This type of investment into our future has a proven track record of improving regional supply chain resiliency. It will also translate into new wealth and opportunities, particularly for communities that the Biden administration has identified as underserved, including socially disadvantaged populations and low-income rural areas.

Farmers and ranchers are entrepreneurs as much as they are agricultural producers. This past year has demonstrated that improved business skills and financial literacy are essential to enabling these businesses to survive unforeseen market disruptions. For example, many small and midsized operations did not have the adequate financial recordkeeping needed to access coronavirus relief.

Providing customized support in the form of one-to-one technical assistance–for financial coaching, business planning, market development, succession planning, and accessing land and capital–will create new jobs and expand profitability for both the current and next generation. One state program that provides tailored support and training found that two years of business planning support generated a 62 percent increase in net income, as well as added jobs at a rate three times that of the sector on average. This is just one example of what can be achieved nationally.

Through the American Rescue Plan Act, Congress provided an additional $3.6 billion in funding to improve supply chain resiliency and help producers as well as small and midsized processors respond to the pandemic. Dedicating a portion of these funds to one-on-one business technical assistance is critical to meeting these goals. Currently, support for this assistance is being provided on a piecemeal basis across the country by public and NGO service providers who rely on inconsistent government and philanthropic funding sources. While the recent supplemental funding for USDA’s Local AgricultureMarket Program (LAMP) and Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) represent critical investments in small and midsized farm and food businesses, these programs have a wide range of uses and are not specifically designed to support in-depth and sustained business technical assistance. In fact, a dedicated investment into business technical assistance will help ensure the impact and longevity of these LAMP and FOTO investments. As such, we urge USDA to dedicate $300 million for business technical assistance, delivered in the form of multi-year grants to public and NGO agricultural service providers with a history of providing this type of assistance and a track record of increasing business skills, profitability, and access to land and capital.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We are grateful for the work you and the Department have done to support farms, ranches, and other food businesses as thepandemic continues.



Agricultural Viability Alliance

Alden Services

American Farmland Trust

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture

Black Family Land Trust, Inc.

C2C-Farm and Ranch Business Education

The Carrot Project

Center for an Agricultural Economy

Chester County Economic Development Council

City Gardens

Coastal Enterprises, Inc (CEI)

Columbia Farmers Market

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

Compeer Financial

Connecticut Farm Bureau Association

Connecticut Farmland Trust

Connecticut Food System Alliance

The Conservation Fund

Conservation Law Foundation

The Cooper Group, LLC

Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Cornell Cooperative Extension CAAHP

The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District

Eastern Market Partnership

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Elmina B. Sewall Foundation

Fair Food Network

Farm Commons

Farm Credit East

Food and Beverage Law Clinic, Elisabeth Haub School of Law atPace University

The Food Group

Foodshed Capital

Franklin County Community Development Corporation

Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming

GoFarm Hawaii

The Good Acre

The Greater Cumberland Committee (TGCC)

Green Village Initiative

Grounded Earth Farm

Grow Food dba Viva Farms


Harris-Pero & Botelho, PLLC

Harvard Law School, Food Law and Policy Clinic

Hawaii Cattlemen's Council

Healthy Harvest of North Iowa

Holistic Management International

Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp.

Illinois Environmental Council

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Intervale Center

Izaak Walton League, Illinois Division

The John Merck Fund

Jubilee Justice

Kane CountyDevelopment & Community Services Department

Kane County Farmland Protection Program

Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development

Kitchen Table Consultants

The Kohala Center

The Land Connection

Land For Good

Maine Farmland Trust

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Mālama Kaua’i

Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

Michigan Young Farmer Coalition

Middlesex County Farm Bureau, Inc

Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service

Mill City Farmers Market

Minnesota Farmers Union

MinnesotaFarmers’ Market Association

Morse Marketing Connections, LLC

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

National Young Farmers Coalition

NE/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force

The New Connecticut Farmer Alliance

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

NH Community Loan Fund


Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY)

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

NW Indiana Food Council

OahuResource Conservation and Development Council

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Oregon Climate and Agriculture Network

Oregon State University Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems

Oregon Tilth

Organic Growers School

Ottawa County

Pasa Sustainable Agriculture


Piedmont Environmental Council

Potlikker Capital

Ralph K Morris Foundation

Renewing the Countryside

RIDEM/Division of Agriculture/Forestry

Rogue Farm Corps

Small Business Development Center, Clackamas Community College

South HeroLand Trust

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

Sprout MN

Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota

Sustainable Iowa Land Trust

Thurston Economic Development Council

UNH Cooperative Extension

UNH Sustainability Institute (backboneorganization of Food Solutions New England)

The Valleys Planning Council, Inc.

Vangard Family Farm

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

Vermont Land Trust

Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Vital Communities

West Michigan Food Processing Association

World Farmers

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