Grant Resources for Food Enterprises

A basket of vegetables, including carrots, onions, and beets. Food enterprises and organizations,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has multiple grant funding opportunities to develop or expand food system enterprises with the goals of increasing access to local or regionally produced foods and enhancing marketing opportunities for agricultural producers.

If you are interested in learning more or in developing an application, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives can assist with grant development and review. Please note that our staff do not write grants on behalf of projects. Contact us at scott.1220@osu.edu bauman.67@osu.edu.

Farmers Market Promotion Program

“FMPP funds projects that develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.”

Eligible entities:  Agricultural businesses and cooperatives; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks and associations; food councils; economic development corporations; local governments; nonprofit and public benefit corporations; producer networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities; tribal governments.

Deadline to apply: May 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here. Learn more in this short video from USDA.

Local Food Promotion Program

“LFPP funds projects that develop, coordinate, and expand local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.”

Eligible entities:  Agricultural businesses and cooperatives; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks and associations; food councils; economic development corporations; local governments; nonprofit and public benefit corporations; producer networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities; tribal governments.

Deadline to apply: May 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here. Learn more in this short video from USDA.

Regional Food System Partnerships

“The RFSP supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The RFSP focuses on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners.”

Eligible partnerships must include at least one eligible entity and at least one eligible partner.

Eligible entities include: producers; producer networks or associations; farmers or rancher cooperatives; majority controlled producer-based business ventures; food councils; local or tribal governments; nonprofit corporations; economic development corporations; public benefit corporations; community supported agriculture networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities.

Eligible partners include: state agencies or regional authorities; philanthropic organizations; private corporations; institutions of higher education; Commercial, Federal, or Farm Credit System lending institutions.

Deadline to apply: May 11, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here.

You can explore additional grant opportunities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service here and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture here.

COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

OSU South Centers located in Piketon, Ohio.

The OSU South Centers’ Business Development Network is prepared to help small businesses virtually.

Remember We’re Here to Help

The OSU South Centers Business Development Network continues to be available to help your small business. Our development specialists are working remotely and are available to meet virtually to assist your business.

Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

CFAES Center for Cooperatives

Stay in Touch with Customers Remotely Using Online Tools

Businesses of all shapes and sizes can use technology to inform and stay in touch with customers. If you have had changes to your hours, location, contact information, or you simply want to communicate with your customers, consider updating your Google My Business profile or sharing updates or hosting events for your customer community online using Facebook, Instagram, or other online tools.

Utilize Free or Enhanced Capability Tech for Remote Working

If you or members of your team are shifting to remote work, a number of technology providers are expanding capabilities for their current customers for free or are making their platforms available at no cost for a limited time. GoToMeeting has released Emergency Remote Work Kits for current LogMeIn customers and other eligible institutions and organizations,  Google is granting free access to expanded capabilities for G Suite customersMicrosoft offers a free version of their Teams collaboration platform and is expanding free access to Teams, and Cisco has expanded the capabilities on their free Webex offer and is providing free 90-day licenses to businesses who are not Webex customers.

Get some tips on ensuring a successful transition to remote work:

For more information about collaboration tools offered in response to the public health situation, check out this article from ZDNet.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

The SBA EIDL program can provide loans of up to $2 million to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofits that are unable to meet obligations and pay ordinary and necessary operating expenses due to a recognized economic disaster. Loan amounts are based on actual economic injury and financial need. Please note that EIDLs require repayment and that EIDL is not a grant program. Terms will be determined on a case by case basis.

Ohio was declared a disaster zone under the EIDL program on Thursday, March 19, 2020 effective beginning January 31, 2020.  Businesses can learn about the process for applying for EIDL assistance, gather loan application materials, and apply online if they think they will qualify for and require EIDL assistance. Required application materials will include:

  • Completed SBA Business Loan Application
  • Tax information authorization form for the applicant, principals, and affiliates
  • Copies of the most recently filed federal income tax return, including all schedules
  • Personal financial statements for the applicant, each principal, or general partner
  • Schedule of liabilities listing all fixed debt

Assistance for Exporters

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Export Express loan program is available for U.S. small businesses that export directly overseas or indirectly by selling to a customer that then exports their product. The Export Express loan program can provide up to $500,000 of financing for businesses prior to finalizing an export sale or while pursuing opportunities overseas, such as identifying a new overseas customer if an export sale is lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. Explore information on SBA’s COVID-19 small business loan resources.

IRS Federal Income Tax Payment Relief

The IRS has announced payment relief measures for individuals and businesses that owe federal income tax. Note that this payment relief applies only to federal income tax payments and does not apply to payments of state taxes or other federal taxes.

The income tax payment deadline for individuals, including self-employed income, is being automatically extended to July 15, 2020 for up to $1 million of a taxpayer’s 2019 tax due.

The income tax payment deadline for C Corporations is being automatically extended until July 15, 2020 for up to $10 million of the corporation’s 2019 tax due.

Also, note that recent reports indicate that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the federal income tax filing deadline will be delayed to July 15, 2020.

Unemployment Benefits and Employee Leave

An executive order issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has expanded flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during the state’s emergency declaration period. Learn more about coronavirus and unemployment insurance benefits from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) became law with provisions for paid sick leave for employees affected by COVID-19, expanded coverage of the Family and Medical Leave Act for absences related to COVID-19, and certain tax credits to help offset the costs of paid leave requirements, among other provisions. Learn more about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in, “Time to Hit Pause: What Employers Need to Know About Yesterday’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” from Forbes.

Please note that if you have questions about your legal requirements as an employer, you should consult a human resources or legal professional.

Keeping Your Workplace Safe

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has information to help employers address the coronavirus pandemic, including guidance on preparing various workplaces for COVID-19, preventing worker exposure to the virus, and more. To see all of the COVID-19 information from OSHA, click here.

Guidance for Businesses and Employers from the CDC

In response to COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that employers and businesses:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Separate and send home sick employees
  • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning
  • Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps

Note that if an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has requested that Ohio employers ask their employees to check their temperature before coming to work. Stay up to date on Ohio’s Public Health Orders and COVID-19 response at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Other Helpful Resources for Small Businesses

Ready to Grow your Food & Farm Business?

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau are teaming up to host an interactive experience for small-to-medium food entrepreneurs who are poised to grow their businesses. Foodpreneurs will engage with experts in branding, sales, marketing, and more to learn strategies to meet their growth goals.

Date: Two-part workshop on September 23rd and 30th, 2019

Time: 2 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Location: Keller Market House, 134 S. Columbus Street, Lancaster, Ohio 43130

Participation is limited to 30 foodpreneurs. Interested foodpreneurs must apply by 5 p.m. on August 20, 2019. Foodpreneurs will be notified of their selection and scholarship availability by August 22, 2019.

Apply to participate in Foodpreneur School!

 

The cost to participate in Foodpreneur School is $125 per person due by September 9, 2019. Ohio Farm Bureau member price is $75. A limited number of full scholarships are also available.

Questions about Foodpreneur School? Reach out to the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at osucooperatives@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext. 111.

OSU Professional Services for Collaborative Enterprises Survey

The Center for Cooperatives in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University is working on a project to assess the professional legal, accounting, and tax services available to cooperative and collaborative businesses in Ohio and West Virginia.

The goals of the project are twofold.

  • First, using information collected from an online survey, the Center will create a directory of professionals who provide services to cooperatives and collaborative enterprises.
  • Second, the Center will use online survey responses to better understand professionals’ experience levels, continuing education practices, and interests in network building to help develop programming and resources for professionals in our region’s cooperative community.

How can you help with this project?

If you are an attorney, accountant, or tax professional who works with cooperatives and collaborative enterprises, we invite you to take the short survey at the link below. The survey will gather information for a directory of professionals and ask about your experience with cooperatives as well as continuing education and networking interests. We anticipate that the survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes of your time.

If you know legal, financial, or tax professionals working with cooperatives, please forward this invitation to participate to them! Gathering robust information will help us create valuable resources for the cooperative community.

Professional Services for Collaborative Enterprises Survey

If you have questions about his project, please contact Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext. 227. This survey is for a study being conducted by The Ohio State University.

Contribute to Food Hub Knowledge, Participate in 2018 Food Hub Benchmarking Study

Did you know that the average gross revenue of a food hub in 2017 was $2.4 million? Or that the most common types of customers for food hubs are restaurants and direct consumers? Or that the average number of vendor selling to a food hub was 55 in 2013?

 

“Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey,” published in March 2018, details these and many more findings from a comprehensive review of the maturing food hub sector in the United States. The report reviews many aspects of a food hub business from finances to food safety, giving food hub stakeholders access to information that can help inform their decisions, based on a national survey of existing food hubs. You can learn more about the study’s results in a webinar hosted by the National Good Food Network at 3:30pm EST on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

“Counting Values: Food Hub Financial Benchmarking Study,” released in 2014 by the Wallace Center at Winrock International, Farm Credit East, and other partners, details financial and operational characteristics for food hubs in a way that can serve as performance indicators for other businesses in the sector.

Food hub stakeholders have an opportunity now to contribute to an update of research like this through the 2018 Food Hub Benchmarking Study. The study, according to the Wallace Center at Winrock International will collect financial and operational data from food hub businesses, standardizing and aggregating the data to develop sector insights and performance indicators. Hubs that participate in the study will receive and individualized benchmark report and technical assistance on using the report as a business tool. Learn more about how to participate in the study here.

According to the “Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey,” fresh produce and herbs are the most common products sold by food hubs in the U.S.

 

Changes to Tax Law: Section 199A Deductions

The cooperative world has seen a lot of discussion this month about the potential consequences of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 for agricultural cooperatives and their members. Explore these resources from Iowa State University’s Dr. Keri Jacobs and Dr. Brian Briggeman of Kansas State University with Dr. Philip Kenkel of Oklahoma State University to learn more.

“A Discussion of the Sec 199A Deduction and its Potential Impacts on Producers and Grain Marketing Firms” by Dr. Keri Jacobs in farmdoc daily.

“Impact of Tax Reform on Agricultural Cooperatives: Special Edition ACCC Fact Sheet Series Collaborative Research KSU/OSU” by Dr. Brian Briggeman and Dr. Philip Kenkel.

 

Cooperative Leadership Forum Offers a Valuable Learning Opportunity

The Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC), an organization representing over 100 cooperatives in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, is offering a unique leadership training for co-op employees, board members, and other prospective leaders. The sessions on February 21-22 and March 6-7 in Oxford, Ohio will include tours of successful cooperatives in various sectors, sessions on leadership and management, and talks with cooperative leaders from across Ohio, among other activities.

MACC Executive Director, Rod Kelsay, talks with forum participants about how to develop their personal leadership skills.

In 2016, staff members of the OSU South Centers had the opportunity to participate in the forum, which included tours of Butler Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. and CHACO Credit Union as well as visits from representatives of Miami University Credit Union, Dairy Farmers of America, and COBA/Select Sires. The various speakers shared how their co-ops benefit members, how they are governed, and the services they provide to members. Each highlighted their “cooperative difference,” including their prioritization of members’ needs, education efforts, and concern for community. OSU South Centers’ Kimberly Roush, explained the inspiration she gathered from visits to local co-ops. “I noticed an interesting result of the cooperative environment during the leadership forum—the overall culture of the cooperative employees who spoke with us.  The staff explained specific details about the reason for and the function of their cooperatives. Then they shared something more—talking about member activities and interaction with the community.  It was exciting to learn how the cooperative principles permeate the local culture.”    

Not only did staff learn a great deal from various guest speakers, the forum was an opportunity to network with and learn from other participants who worked across various sectors like credit unions and agricultural marketing and supply co-ops.

To learn more about the 2018 Cooperative Leadership Forum, visit http://editor.des08.com/macc/Brochure_CLF_2018.pdf. Contact MACC with any questions at (317)-726-6910 or knowledge@macc.coop.

Cooperative Roots Run Deep

Modern cooperatives, whether they market agricultural products, operate a food store, or purchase hardware supplies, typically operate according to a set of widely recognized cooperative principles. These “cooperative principles” tie cooperatives across the United States and the world together in a larger movement. Where did these principles originate? How did the cooperative model and movement develop?

Cooperative Principles and the Rochdale Pioneers

The cooperative principles recognized by the International Co-operative Alliance, and the broad cooperative community, are generally recognized to have originated from the efforts of 28 working men who founded the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society in 1844 and operated a cooperatively owned store that started out selling butter, flour, sugar, and oatmeal. The Rochdale Pioneers, as they came to be known, were working toward social goals that arose out of the conditions of their time, including harsh working conditions. Read more about the Rochdale Pioneers and their efforts on the website of the Rochdale Pioneer Museum.

Watch this video commissioned for the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and the Co-operative Heritage Trust to learn more about the development of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. 

The original rules of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society included:

  • That capital should be of their own providing and bear a fixed rate of interest
  • That only the purest provisions procurable should be supplied to members
  • That full weight and measure should be given
  • That market prices should be charged and no credit given nor asked
  • That profits should be divided pro rate upon the amount of purchases made by each member
  • That the principle of ‘one member one vote’ should obtain in government and the equality of the sexes in membership
  • That management should be in the hands of officers and committee elected periodically
  • That a definite percentage of profits should be allotted to education
  • That frequent statements and balance sheets should be presented to members

Today, the cooperative community recognizes seven core principles.

 

Early Cooperation

While modern cooperative principles can be traced to Rochdale, England in the mid-19th century, the cooperative business was not a new form of organization. In fact, mutual insurance companies existed as early as 1530 in Paris and London and various ‘friendly societies’ operated in England in the 1700’s to provide financial assistance to members in difficult times of sickness, unemployment, or death. Purchasing cooperatives operated in various Western European countries by the 18th century and consumer controlled mills operated in England in the early 1800s. The Fenwick Weavers Society in Scotland began collective purchasing in 1769; according to the Rochdale Pioneers Musuem, the society is the “earliest cooperative retail society for which records survive.”

Some cooperative scholars trace the history of cooperation much further than these efforts. Rather, they look to ancient social norms of mutual aid, such as the collegia of ancient Rome’s, the craft guilds of 11th century Europe, and the Ahi movement in Anotolia or what is today, Turkey. Ed Mayo’s short publication, “A short history of cooperation and mutuality,” provides a fresh perspective on these movements and the ways that they were influential in shaping the modern cooperative movement.

Cooperatives in the United States

In the United States, Benjamin Franklin helped to start the first recognized cooperative business, a mutual insurance company, in 1752. Agricultural cooperatives played an important role in the development of cooperatives in the U.S. with the first ag co-ops beginning operations in 1810 in dairy and cheese making. From 1810 until 1887, cooperatives were founded in many sectors of agriculture, including hog marketing, irrigation, fruit marketing, and cotton ginning, among others. The Grange, one of the first farm organizations in the U.S., organized cooperative development efforts while other farm groups like the American Farm Bureau and National Farmers Union were also instrumental to developing agricultural cooperatives. In fact, Farm Bureau helped to establish Growmark and Nationwide Insurance while National Farmers Union helped to establish CHS, Inc., the largest agricultural cooperative in the U.S. today.

Sources and recommended reading:

A short history of co-operation and mutuality by Ed Mayo
The Rochdale Principles, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
About Toad Lane, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
About the Pioneers, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
History of the Co-operative Movement, International Cooperative Alliance
Rochdale Pioneers Museum Time Machine, Rochdale Pioneers Museum
Cooperatives: Principles and practices in the 21st century by Kimberly A. Zueli and Robert Cropp