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Through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant received by the Food Finance Institute (FFI) a new training program to promote the financial sustainability of food hubs will be available in 2017. The food hub training program has been made possible as part of a larger effort to strengthen local and regional food systems, support farmer’s markets and fund organic research

To be considered a regional food hub your business or organization must manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail and institutional demand. The purpose of this program is to create a national network of at least 100 trained food hub managers and 60 technical assistance providers to offer the financial management skills and resources needed by food hubs.

The FFI is a project of the University of Wisconsin Extension’s Division of Business and Entrepreneurship. The institute is a collaborative network of food entrepreneurs, finance expertise and investment resources focused on Wisconsin’s food sector. This is a sector whose growth is being propelled by the passion for local food and consumer demand for unique and healthy foods. FFI’s mission is to make sophisticated financial technical assistance available to every growing food and value-added farm enterprise through consulting collaborations, practitioner certification and industry-specific resources.

“This grant recognizes the strength of our expertise in financing food and agriculture enterprises. It is an important opportunity for us to enhance the financial viability of food hubs, and the farm and food businesses they do business with,” said Tera Johnson, founder and director of the Food Finance Institute, part of the University of Wisconsin Extension.

This effort is complementary to FFI’s new Edible-Alpha online training platform. Edible-Alpha™ is a curated open-source food business consultant community and digital learning center for food and value-added farm enterprises and the people who fund them. is devoted to disseminating best practices in the profitable management and financing of food and value-added farm businesses in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, training modules and other materials. Over the past three years, Johnson also has helped over 50 food and farm enterprises improve their financial performance and raise the money they need to grow.

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