New Fund, Established as Part of White House Rural Council’s Made In Rural America Export
and Investment Initiative, Now Allows USDA to Facilitate Private Equity Investments in
Fund is the First of Upcoming Announcements on Boosting Investment in Rural America; White
House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference to be Held in July
Cedar Rapids, Iowa - (April 21, 2014) – As part of the Obama Administration’s new “Made in Rural
America” export and investment initiative, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the
creation of a new investment fund that will help propel the growth of small businesses across rural
America. The new Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will now allow USDA to facilitate
private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Currently, USDA programs exist to
help provide loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses grow, but many small cutting-edge
businesses also need equity support in addition to or instead of borrowed funds.
Advantage Capital Partners, which will manage the new fund, and their partners from eight Farm
Credit institutions have pledged to invest nearly $150 million into the new effort.
“This new fund will allow innovative small businesses throughout rural America to access the
capital they need to grow and create jobs,” Vilsack said. “One of USDA’s top priorities is to help
reenergize the rural economy, and we now have a powerful new tool available to help achieve that
goal. This new partnership will allow us to facilitate private investment in businesses working in
bio-manufacturing, advanced energy production, local and regional food systems, improved
farming technologies and other cutting-edge fields.”
The fund is being formed under the USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). USDA
utilizes RBIP to license funds to invest in enterprises that will create growth and job opportunities
in rural areas, with an emphasis on smaller enterprises. Working through the USDA program
enables licensed funds to raise capital from Farm Credit System banks and associations.
The Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and lending associations specifically
chartered to serve agriculture and the U.S. rural economy, is an essential provider of credit to
agriculture and rural America. This new partnership between Farm Credit institutions and
Advantage Capital, a leading growth capital and small business finance firm, brings together
resources and people that are focused on providing more private capital, small business
investment and quality jobs to rural America. This public-private partnership will have a tangible
positive impact on our rural economy and is a model of how government can serve as a catalyst
for private investment in rural America.
Eight Farm Credit institutions providing initial investments in the RBIC fund are: AgStar Financial
Services (Mankato, Minn.); AgriBank (St. Paul, Minn.); Capital Farm Credit (Bryan, Texas);
CoBank (Denver, Colo.); Farm Credit Bank of Texas (Austin, Texas); Farm Credit Services of America (Omaha, Neb.); Farm Credit Mid-America (Louisville, Ky.); and United FCS (Willmar,
USDA also announced that it is accepting new applications for other new Rural Business
Investment Companies such as the one announced today. Interested applicants have until July
29th to submit their applications for review in FY2014. Any application accepted after this deadline
will be held for consideration next year. USDA intends to accept RBIC applications through
2016, detailed information including application materials and instructions can be found at:
In addition, Secretary Vilsack said that the White House Rural Council, as part of the Made in
Rural America initiative, will convene the Rural Opportunity Investment Conference later this year
to attract additional investments to rural America by connecting major investors with rural
business leaders, government officials, economic development experts and other partners. This
conference will promote opportunities to invest in rural America by highlighting successful projects
in energy, biofuels and bioproducts, infrastructure, transportation, water systems,
telecommunications, health care, manufacturing, and local and regional food systems. To learn
more about the conference, visit www.usda.gov/investmentconference.
About Farm Credit Services of America
Farm Credit Services of America is proud to finance the growth of rural America, including the special needs of young and beginning producers. With assets of more than $21 billion, FCSAmerica is one of the region’s leading providers of credit and insurance services to farmers, ranchers, agribusiness and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Learn more at www.fcsamerica.com
About the White House Rural Council
To address challenges in Rural America, build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy,
and improve the implementation of that strategy, the President signed an Executive Order
establishing the White House Rural Council. The Council coordinates the Administration’s efforts
in rural America by streamlining and improving the effectiveness of federal programs serving rural
America; engage stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers, and local citizens, on issues and
solutions in rural communities; and promoting and coordinating private-sector partnerships. With
the signing of the Farm Bill in early February, President Obama directed the Council to lead a new
“Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, charged with bringing together Federal
resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities
and access new customers and markets abroad. The work of the White House Rural Council and
USDA to bring investment to rural America is an example of how the Administration is creating
smart partnerships with the private sector to better support Americans in all parts of the country.
About USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP)
The Rural Business Investment Program promotes economic development in mostly rural areas
by helping to meet the equity capital investment needs of smaller enterprises in such areas.
USDA licenses newly formed for-profit investment fund entities as Rural Business Investment
Companies (RBICs). RBICs use the equity raised in capitalizing their fund to make equity and
equity-like investments mostly in smaller enterprises located primarily in rural areas.
About the Farm Credit System
For nearly a century, Farm Credit has been a national provider
of credit and related services to rural America through its cooperative network of customer-owned
lending institutions. Farm Credit provides more than $200 billion in loans and leases to farmers,
ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and
agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System,
please visit www.farmcredit.com.
About Advantage Capital Partners
Advantage Capital Partners is a growth capital and small business finance firm focused on
providing growth capital and other investments supporting state and local economic development
efforts. The firm’s typical forms of investment include venture, expansion equity, mezzanine
financing, senior and subordinated loans and government-guaranteed lending. With offices and
partners in New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and other U.S. cities, Advantage Capital has invested
more than $1.6 billion since 1992. The firm invests in small businesses across a wide range of
industries that are located in geographic areas underserved by traditional sources of capital.