JACKSON, Miss. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a stakeholder conversation Friday in Jackson to highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Delta Regional Food Business Center and discuss public and private partnerships to strengthen food supply chain infrastructure in the Delta region.
The Delta Regional Food Business Center is a partnership of community-based organizations, universities, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) who will work with regional clusters of food and farm businesses to help them reach new, local markets and build resilience across the middle of the supply chain by strengthening local and regional food systems.
“The Delta Regional Food Business Center will help producers in the Delta region create new and expanded market opportunities which will improve farm income, create good paying jobs, and build greater resilience in our overall food system,” said Vilsack. “USDA is committed to strengthening local and regional food systems to provide farmers and producers with more options and opportunities to access the marketplace, which is essential to the overall food supply chain.”
In September 2022, USDA announced $400 million to fund the Regional Food Business initiative and in May announced that 12 organizations were selected to lead efforts in their region and together serve all areas of the country. The Regional Food Business Centers will support producers by providing localized assistance to access a variety of markets, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors.
The Delta USDA Regional Food Business Center will be supported by the Mississippi Delta Council for Farm Worker Opportunities, Inc. a minority-led non-profit based in Clarksdale, Miss. The group will partner with community-based organizations, CDFIs, and universities with the goal of converting 2% of all food that is imported into the region to be locally produced, increasing regional annual income by more than $100 million.
By strengthening connections between rural and urban areas, Regional Food Business Centers will drive economic opportunities across their regions, creating a more diversified and resilient food system. The Delta Center will organize its work around multi-county clusters of food and farm businesses to foster collaboration, resource sharing and the development of cooperatives. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will partner with state and territories’ departments of agriculture for this program.