Grants to Help Local Food Supply
OLYMPIA – The need to respond to pandemic-related disruptions to the food supply chain in recent years illustrated the important ways that resilient local food systems can help connect consumers to foods produced closer to home. The need for local food system infrastructure that supports growth in local economies and healthy communities is recognized by both the state and federal governments who are making new grants and technical assistance available.
Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are investing in grants and technical assistance programs that bolster resilient local food systems. Earlier this year, Washington State Legislature approved $8 million in new ongoing state funding to continue WSDA’s successful Local Food System Infrastructure Grant. In addition, this summer, USDA announced the Resilient Food System Infrastructure Program is providing $9.4 million in funding for Washington state to administer grants and technical assistance that will support farms and food businesses with infrastructure projects that expand capacity and strengthen collaboration across linkages in the regional food supply chain.
In 2022 and 2023, nearly $20 million in grants were awarded to small farms and local food businesses through the Local Food Systems Infrastructure and Local Meat Processing Capacity Grant programs, which are administered by the WSDA Regional Markets Program. The businesses that received assistance through these programs have demonstrated the important role they play in maintaining a vibrant and robust local food system. Continued funding from Washington State Legislature will further bolster the resiliency of our local food systems.
In addition to state-funded programming, WSDA is partnering with USDA on the newly announced Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program. Federal funding from this program will complement the state-funded program, supporting continued expansion of local food system capacity and farm viability in Washington. Funds will be used primarily for large-scale grants and technical assistance designed to build resilience across the middle of the state’s food supply chain.
To ensure effective program priorities, WSDA is asking for public comments and suggestions. Comments should be submitted by: September 15, 2023.