USDA Announces Investments in Projects to Support Rural Prosperity, Facilitate Private Investments

Last week, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a special meeting that include approximately 100 investors and venture capitalists to help stimulate private sector investments in rural infrastructure projects with the potential to spur economic development in small towns and rural communities across the country. Through its U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, the USDA has helped to facilitate the investment of nearly $161 million in private capital toward 22 critical water and community facilities projects in 14 states.

USDA, Private VCs Raising $125M for Rural Startups

Two private venture firms have committed to raising a total of $125 million to invest in rural, early stage startups under the Department of Agriculture's Rural Business Investment Program. The program was launched last April, when Advantage Capital Partners launched the first $150 million Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) fund. Two new RBIC funds are now being raised by Innovation Memphis ($25 million) and Meritus Kirchner Capital ($100 million) to make targeting equity investments in rural businesses with high-growth potential. Learn more...

Highlights from the President's FY15 Department of Agriculture Budget Request

FY14 estimated funding is used for Department of Agriculture funding comparisons, unless otherwise noted.

Presidential Report Calls for New Innovation Ecosystem for Agricultural Research

In a report, the President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology recommends that the federal government should launch a coordinated effort to boost American agricultural science by increasing public investments.

Federal Support Declining for Academic Research, Universities Face Challenges with Budget Constraint

The Congressional Research Service recently published findings on the current conditions of federal support of academic research, highlighting the threat that constrained university, state and federal budgets places on critical basic research. Although there is growing recognition that R&D is crucial to the long term health of the nation's science and technology sectors, data from the report shows U.S. colleges and universities have seen a decline in financial support at the federal, state and private levels. The situation is worsened by the conclusion of federal stimulus funding for university research and a decline in revenue for 35 states in FY12.

Clean Tech Venture Investment Declines, USDA Supports VC-Backed Clean Tech Firms

Clean Tech venture investments declined in the third quarter of 2012, according to the MoneyTree report released on Friday by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). The numbers reinforce the current trend of decreasing investment in clean tech companies and projects and the inherent challenges of VC backing in the sector. However, many are attributing this drop to a shift in the focus of clean tech investment by private and public entities rather than complete disenchantment in the promising sector.

Specter of Budget Sequestration Looms Over November's Elections

Unless Congress and the White House take action by the end of the year, across-the-board spending reductions will go into effect for all federal agencies as a result of provisions in the Budget Control Act of 2011. The budget sequestration would reduce defense discretionary funding by 9.4 percent and non-defense funding by 8.2 percent from the 2011 baseline. Though the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report outlining these reductions does not provide details by program, research and economic development spending could be affected disproportionately, since, in many agencies, these programs are supported through discretionary spending.

President Announces Capital Initiatives for Rural Small Businesses

Speaking during a Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, IA, President Obama announced several new initiatives to promote economic growth in rural areas, including two new capital programs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will partner with USDA to double its current rate of investment in rural small businesses to $350 million over the next five years. This will be accomplished through SBA's Impact Investment Fund. SBA and USDA also will launch a series of rural private equity and venture capital conferences nationwide to help connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural startups, according to a White House press release. Read the announcement...


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