USDA Announces Its $1.89 Million Investment To Support Rural Small Businesses and Communities

WASHINGTON, October 4 – the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Director J. Scott Angle announced today the Agency’s $1.89 million investment in small business research grants.

“It is great to support rural small business. These business will use their investment to create something that will help farmers and ranchers throughout the country,” said Dr. J. Scott Angle, NIFA’s Director. “NIFA helps rural businesses create and commercialize new innovative ideas and existing technology, products, or processes that ultimately will strengthen America’s rural communities.”

These grants are made through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a competitive funding source, coordinated by the Small Business Administration and administered by 11 federal agencies, to encourage domestic small businesses to engage in high-growth research and development that has commercialization potential.

Hawai’i ‘Ulu Producers Cooperative in Captain Cook, Hawaii, is one of the business receiving funding to help develop the breadfruit industry from pilot to commercialization. Breadfruit is a prolific, nutritious staple, with a low-glycemic, high protein starch content that has the potential to reduce global hunger.

IsoTruss Industries, LLC, in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is also receiving funding to design and build cell towers that are 90 percent lighter than steel, reduce wind forces by 75 percent, and have a lifespan four times that of steel. The technology combines the benefits of composite materials and a patented geometric design use to create better cell and internet bandwidth for rural communities.

Both of the projects are Phase I SBIR projects that evaluate scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept. The SBIR program encourages agricultural manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy projects. Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects.

Since 2015, NIFA has funded more than $8 million in SBIR Phase I funding to support rural communities through research investments to small businesses and small to mid-size farms.

NIFA funds and administers the SBIR program, with additional funding provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

In the coming weeks, NIFA will be investing in more small business research projects as part of its Small Business Innovation Research program. To date, NIFA has awarded ten grants to U.S. small business to promote and improve sustainability and profitability of small and mid-size farms and ranches, and nine grants for rural and community development.