In the recent election, the theme of the Trump campaign was “Make America Great Again” and the focus of the new administration is to grow the economy and create jobs. Also, rural America was credited with having a major part in the election results. That being said, this might be a good time to remind you of the resources and support available in our state to help develop and grow rural based business.
The Iowa Farm Bureau leads a coalition of partners called the Value Added Agriculture Support Team (VAAST). VAAST is a working group created to assist in the development of value added agriculture projects in Iowa. The members of VAAST represent agencies, organizations and businesses that provide technical and financial assistance to emerging value added ag businesses and projects.
VAAST meets monthly at the Iowa Farm Bureau offices in West Des Moines. These meetings provide an opportunity for potential ag related businesses to meet with many of the service providers in one setting. This process saves potential businesses a lot of “running around time” and speeds up the initial steps needed to develop a business in Iowa. The meeting proceedings are confidential, which allows for an open and honest discussion regarding opportunities and obstacles the project may face.
Areas of help offered by the members of VAAST include support for feasibility studies, business plan development, market analysis and financial assistance. The types of projects that have received assistance from VAAST include: farmer owned renewable energy projects (ethanol, biodiesel, wind farms and biogas), meat processing, dairy processing, specialty crop production, local food initiatives, ag technology businesses, fish farming & many other businesses that represent unique opportunities.
Listed below are the links to the websites of the some of the VAAST partners:
· Iowa Farm Bureau: www.iowafarmbureau.com
· Iowa Area Development Group: www.iadg.com
· Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship: www.agriculture.state.ia.us
· Iowa Economic Development Authority: www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com
· Iowa State University: www.extension.iastate.edu
· Renew Rural Iowa: www.renewruraliowa.com
· USDA Rural Development: www.rurdev.usda.gov
· VentureNet Iowa: www.venturenetiowa.com
In addition, representatives of the agricultural commodity groups are also involved in the meetings if the proposed business is related to their specific commodity.
Points for consideration:
· Are there resources in your community that are underutilized?
· Are there unmet needs (market) in your area that offer an opportunity?
· What gaps need to be filled in order to build a successful business?
· If you own a business, what will it take to reach the next level?
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