Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says the second in a series of small business conferences aimed at increasing USDA's Food Commodity Contracting Opportunities for Rural America will take place on Dec. 9 at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. The initiative is designed to help small farmer-owned cooperatives and small rural businesses better compete for government and commercial contracts at USDA.
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% of these dollars are spent on food commodities. USDA's Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization and USDA's Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, and Agricultural Marketing Services are co-hosting the conferences. Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. with the program from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.