For Immediate Release

May 3, 2023

The Plains, Ohio- Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of over $40 million will allow the Central Appalachia Network and partners throughout the region to provide assistance with grant writing support, mentoring, business planning services, and access to land. It will also support food and farm businesses with market entry and strengthen existing connections with urban markets through increased efficiency in aggregation and distribution, meaning food and farm businesses can sell more products to more people.

Twelve organizations, including Rural Action on behalf of the Central Appalachian Network, have been selected by USDA to establish Regional Food Centers that will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources, thereby closing the gaps to success. These centers are not physical spaces, but rather collaborations between multiple organizations including the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and Community Food Initiatives (CFI). In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million available to fund this initiative.

This funding will support more workshops, trainings, and collaboration with farmers and producers on the part of Rural Action and other partners in the region. This builds on decades of work with local farmers, and increased capacity to get local food to people in need, which has all been possible thanks to the support and participation of community members and partners. Partners like CFI will distribute more local produce to communities through programs like the Donation Station and Veggie Van, and ACEnet will play a major role in distributing mini grants- direct funding to farmers of up to $100,000 per award, totaling $4 million each year.

These awards will help food businesses and farmers overcome some of the barriers to success that producers in the Appalachian region too often face. Small and medium-sized farms and food businesses in the region will have access to this financial support.

“We are so excited to move forward with this project with USDA,” said Rural Action CEO Debbie Phillips. “Their investment in technical assistance for farms and food businesses is incredibly important, and the ability to put money directly in the pockets of farms and food businesses will be a game changer.”

More information about the project can be found in the Food Business Center Rural Action Summary.

Rural Action is a regional community development organization with a 32-county footprint working with members and community leaders on a range of quality of life, environmental, and economic projects across rural Appalachian Ohio. Its mission is to build a more just economy by developing the region’s assets in environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways. Learn more at



Alexandria Polanosky
Rural Action Media and Communications Director
740.677.4047 ext. 140