USDA has announced a $5 million multi-state grant to establish the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. This venture is a collaboration of university research and outreach specialists focused on collecting and interpreting information and creating new research to support value-added agricultural activities.

The center involves four universities: Iowa State, Kansas State, California and Oklahoma State. Each has networks capable of directing resources, research and experience to value-added agriculture issues.

"This state-of-the-art resource center will facilitate the use of technology to provide research, technical assistance and delivery of agricultural products to markets throughout the world," says Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. "It's an important partnership that will provide additional resources for the development and marketing of value-added ventures."

Iowa State extension will provide administrative leadership to the center and lead the research and outreach teams in developing program goals and objectives. Kansas State University and the University of California will provide expertise in research/outreach and commodity specific content. Oklahoma State will offer specialized services in food processing and proprietary data analysis.

The center's mission is to provide agricultural producers and value-added processors with knowledge-based resources and other assistance to better compete and grow in the global marketplace.

These resources will be made available on an unprecedented scale through the use of computer and telecommunications technologies by:

  • Creating an electronic, web-based library with powerful search capabilities to disseminate information and resources for agricultural producers and processors interested in increasing farm income through adding value to and marketing their products;
  • Establishing a web-based forum for producers and processors, encouraging the exchange of information and the development of strategic alliances and partnerships;
  • Coordinating research and outreach support systems, including training and instructional materials for producers wishing to enter into value-added activities utilizing new telecommunications and computer technology;

The grant was authorized as part of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000. The Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Grants program was established to encourage independent producers of agricultural commodities, and products of agricultural commodities, to further refine such products to increase their value to the end user of the product. Funds will be administered through USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Further information on Rural Development programs can be obtained by visiting USDA's Web site at: