The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now accepting applications for a new grant program to help strengthen Minnesota’s food supply chain.
The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Grant Program offers competitive grants for Minnesota businesses and organizations operating middle-of-the-food-supply-chain activities that support local agricultural products. Up to $9.6 million in funding is available as part of a cooperative agreement awarded to the MDA by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.
Grants will fund projects that expand capacity and infrastructure for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transportation, wholesaling, or distribution of locally and regionally produced food intended for human consumption, including specialty crops, dairy, grains, aquaculture, and other food products (except meat and poultry, as they are funded through other programs). Awards will be between $100,000 and $3 million, and a 50% match of the total project cost is required.
“The RFSI program will allow us to enhance Minnesota’s food supply chain infrastructure and increase market opportunities for producers; bolster support for our food businesses; and expand consumer access to fresh, local foods,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen. “We thank USDA for their partnership, and we look forward to working with grant recipients to build resilient local and regional food systems that benefit all Minnesotans.”
Examples of eligible projects include – but are not limited to – building a new cold storage facility, updating or expanding an existing processing facility, purchasing and installing new equipment, making facility upgrades that enhance worker safety, and improving capacity to comply with food safety regulations. The grant program will prioritize projects that involve dairy, annual and perennial grains, fruits and vegetables, dry beans, or aquaculture as well as projects submitted by farmer- and worker-owned enterprises and cooperatives.
A variety of entities operating in the middle of the supply chain are eligible to apply, including:
•Agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors (including cooperatives or associations)
•Small for-profit businesses
Local and tribal government entities
•Institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals
Additional consideration and a reduced 25% match requirement will be given to eligible applicants who are historically underserved farmers and ranchers; small and underserved business owners; and other businesses that qualify under the U.S. Small Business Administration categories of small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business, and veteran-owned small business.
Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on April 3, 2024, to be considered for funding. Visit the MDA’s Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant web page, www.mda.state.mn.us/business-dev-loans-grants/resilient-food-systems-infrastructure-rfsi-grant, for full program and application details, as well as information on technical assistance available for developing grant proposals.