Center for Rural Affairs joins Heartland Food Business Center to support farm and food businesses

Farm and Food

Kjersten Hyberger, Center for Rural Affairs,, 531.335.1838; Patty Cantrell, Heartland Regional Food Business Center,, 660.476.2185 ext. 6500; Teresa Hoffman, Center for Rural Affairs,, 402.687.2100 ext. 1012

LYONS, NEBRASKA – The Center for Rural Affairs is among more than 30 partners working together to increase business development assistance to small, mid-size, and diverse food and farm entrepreneurs in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas.

The Heartland Regional Food Business Center will help those entrepreneurs build the businesses and supply chain connections needed to meet growing demand for local and regionally produced food.

“It aims to grow the farm and food enterprises, markets, and community connections needed to make local food an everyday, easy choice,” said Kjersten Hyberger, local foods associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “We’re excited to work with partners to strengthen food supply chains and put more regional foods on more Nebraskan’s plates.”

The Heartland Food Business Center is one of 12 established across the nation in 2023, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to support development of a more resilient, diverse, and competitive food system.

The Center for Rural Affairs will provide technical assistance to Nebraska food businesses that use or sell locally produced food products. Staff will also advise and train rural food business owners, including Latino and Native American entrepreneurs, for business and market development as well as help them access funding. Services are available in both English and Spanish.

“We will assist entrepreneurs locally while also working together regionally to identify and address challenges, such as gaps in local food storage capacity or distribution services,” Hyberger said. “A region-wide asset mapping process will further this work to connect and advance resources and initiatives.”

In collaboration with partners, Center staff will help business owners connect to local, state, and national resources.

Reliable and ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food is a major objective of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $400 million investment in establishing Regional Food Business Centers.

“USDA recognizes that local and regional food systems are essential to the overall food supply chain, and the new Regional Food Business Centers are the cornerstone of our efforts to support them,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.

Along with the Center for Rural Affairs, other key partners include Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, No More Empty Pots, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Indigenous Food Trade Coalition, New Growth, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Kansas Rural Center, Kansas State University Research and Extension, KC (Kansas City) Healthy Kids, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center, The Food Conservancy, and University of Missouri Extension.

More information can be found at