"The next program in the package is the Rural Development Grant Program and is designed to help build the capacity of our rural cooperative development centers," she said.

Harden said $5.8 million has been allocated to fund Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which in turn provide technical assistance to individuals and entities improving the economic condition of rural areas by supporting start-up, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities.

In 2013, business and cooperative funding through Rural Development helped 17,773 rural businesses, including 4,200 farmers and 4,472 small businesses. These investments created or saved over 41,600 jobs. Under the Agriculture Act of 2014 USDA will be creating an Interagency Working Group to improve coordination of programs and services between federal agencies and national and local cooperatives through the RCDG program.




More information is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RCDG.html.

"The remaining program in this new package is actually a targeted program for our small and very small producers of grass-fed beef. We are streamlining the application process and will help small producers to become certified, which will help them take advantage of the increased value of their product at the slaughterhouse. This is for producers who have a herd of 49 or less head of cattle," she said.

Harden says the program is tailored to meet the needs of small-scale livestock producers and the growing grass-fed beef industry. It allows producers to certify that their animals meet the requirements of the grass-fed marketing claim standard, helping them differentiate themselves and communicate value to their customers.

For more information about this program, visit ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/GrassFedSVS.

Harden says more programs of assistance will be forthcoming under the terms of the new farm program and says USDA is working diligently to implement the full farm law as fast as possible.