$153,782 grant will develop new small farm cooperatives in S.C.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service awarded a $153,782 grant to the 1890 Center for Rural Cooperative Business Development, an initiative through SC State’s 1890 Research and Extension Program. Recipients of the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program (RCDG) use the funding for improving the economic condition of rural areas through the development of new cooperatives and improving operations of existing cooperatives.

“The volatility of this economy makes it nearly impossible for most small farmers to compete with larger-size farms or corporate farms, which dominate markets. By helping several of the state’s small farmers form cooperatives, we are helping them to leverage their resources, which will enable them to compete,” said Edoe Agbodjan, senior extension director for Small Farm Assistance and Outreach. Agbodjan is also the grant’s principal investigator.

Monies from the grant will be used to promote the formation of three new cooperatives, strengthen existing cooperatives through technical assistance and enhance the capacity of the Center to accomplish its mission and goals.

“Providing life-long opportunities to South Carolina citizens with limited resources is the founding mission of SC State University. Through grants such as the Rural Cooperative Development Grant, we are able to continue to afford those citizens who desire assistance, the necessary resources that will positively impact their well-being,” said Dr. Leonard A. McIntyre, interim vice president for Research and Economic Development.

Established in 1999 to serve all counties in the state, the 1890 Center for Rural Cooperative Business Development has helped form 17 small farm cooperatives and a non-farm cooperative. The Center continues to provide assistance, from leadership training to classes on risk management, to members of the cooperatives.

“The formation of these cooperatives will result in increased farm revenue for our producers, the creation of more jobs in our communities, and it will give consumers more availability to high quality products. All of this helps improve not only the economic development of rural areas, but that of the state,” said Delbert T. Foster, assistant administrator of 1890 Extension.

For more information about the Center and its programs and services, contact 1890 Extension at (803) 536-8460.