WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced the fifth in a series of small business conferences aimed at increasing USDA's Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America initiative. The conference will take place on December 7 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
"The food commodity contracting initiative is a great example of USDA working to help small businesses create jobs, build capacity and provide opportunities for producers throughout rural America," Merrigan said.
The initiative is designed to enable rural economic growth by increasing small business contracting participation in rural areas of the country. USDA intends to help small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses to better compete for government and commercial contracts at the department.
Each year USDA purchases more than $5.2 billion in goods and services essential to meeting the needs of its customers and the various missions of the Department. Approximately 50 percent of these dollars are spent on food commodities. USDA's Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization, Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency, and Agricultural Marketing Services are co-hosting the conferences and at least four additional events will be held in other regions of the country.
The conference will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Gettysburg Hotel, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is free. On-site registration will take place between 8 and 8:45 a.m. Space is limited so email or fax your name, company name, full address, telephone number and email address to: smallbizconf@xxxxxxxxxxx or fax: 202-720-3001, or phone: 202-720-7380 or 202-205-5949.
USDA officials expect small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses attending the conferences will:
- Become aware of necessary capabilities and certifications to participate in Federal food commodity procurements;
- Learn about USDA resources for business development and technical assistance;
- Establish relationships with key USDA personnel who purchase food projects and who set and establish policy and standards; and
- Learn how to increase and meet demand for their products and services within local food systems, USDA, and other Federal agencies.