Agriculture Secretary announces Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund

In May, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the launch of a new private investment fund with the potential to inject $100 million into small food and agriculture businesses across rural America. The fund is known as the Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund.

“Like their counterparts in urban areas, innovative small businesses throughout rural America need access to capital in order to grow and create jobs,” Vilsack said. “At USDA, we are working hard to reenergize the rural economy, and we are enlisting more and more private sector partners to help achieve that goal. Open Prairie has been a great partner in this effort.”

The Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund will invest in companies with high-growth potential across the food and agribusiness value chain and rural America, including those in the crop protection, agricultural production and processing, precision agriculture, and information and data management sectors.

Open Prairie, founded in 1997 by agribusiness entrepreneur Jim Schultz, is a multi-faceted private equity management firm, with roots in rural America and its headquarters in Effingham, Ill. The new fund was formed under the USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP). USDA is utilizing RBIP to license funds to invest in enterprises that will create growth and job opportunities in rural areas, with an emphasis on smaller enterprises. For more ­information, go to