North Dakota Farmers Union is part of a Regional Food Business Center established today by USDA to expand small and mid-sized agricultural food and supply chains in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Known as the “MiNKota RFBC,” the center will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers and food businesses access new markets while navigating federal, state and local resources. Of primary focus will be the development of critical infrastructure for small and mid-sized livestock processing, fruit and vegetable processing, warehouse space and storage options.

“In response to the pandemic that exposed weaknesses within our food delivery and supply chain systems, this is an important step toward building local, resilient systems for consumers and rural America,” said NDFU President Mark Watne. “Increasing local and regional demand for products, expanding processing capacity and improving delivery channels will add value to the products grown and raised by family farmers and ranchers.”

As a state partner of the center, NDFU will help identify needs and host a two-day summit every other year for technical assistance providers and initiative partners. Minnesota Farmers Union and South Dakota Farmers Union are also partners in the project.

In total, USDA will establish 12 Regional Food Business Centers to serve all areas of the country. The effort is part of a $400 million initiative announced last September.