ODA Opens Applications for Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant Program
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is now accepting applications as part of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI). The RFSI program aims to build resilience in the middle of the supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems by creating new revenue streams for Oregon producers.
Approximately $2.4 million is available for infrastructure grants to assist Oregon agricultural producers or processors, nonprofit organizations operating middle-of –the-supply chain activities, Tribal governments, and institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals that bring together producers to establish cooperatives or shared infrastructure to benefit multiple producers.
Funds will support projects to expand capacity and infrastructure for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products, including commonly recognized fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry. An emphasis will be made to fund projects benefiting small and emerging farms and food businesses from historically disadvantaged groups.
The ODA will provide two grant tracks for this funding – Infrastructure Grants and Simplified Equipment Only Grants.
The infrastructure grant application period opens January 1, 2024, and will close February 29, 2024 at noon. ODA and the advisory committee seek applications with a suggested range of $100,000 to $2,000,000. A 50% match is required for infrastructure grants. Historically underserved farmers and ranchers, or other businesses that qualify under SBA categories of small, disadvantaged, women-owned, or veteran-owned small businesses, are eligible for a reduced match requirement of 25%. Submissions should be submitted online and received by noon Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, February 29, 2024.
An online training video recording will give applicants an in-depth look at the program and explain the grant application process step-by-step. In addition, the ODA will host regional virtual “office hours” calls to answer questions and to encourage collaboration. All sessions are open to the public, and you may attend the virtual meeting that best fits your schedule. Application forms, program guidelines, training videos, and the regional “office hours” call schedules are posted on the ODA’s website. https://oda.direct/RFSI
Based on a survey of producers, processors, associations, commissions, Tribal Governments, and other stakeholders to determine priority needs, the program priorities are in no particular order. Projects may meet multiple priority areas:
- Coordinate initiatives to build resilience across the middle-of-the-food-supply-chain in Oregon by creating additional, new, and better markets for locally or regionally produced food.
- Expand the capacity of the locally and regionally produced food products in one or more ways: aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, or distribution.
- Enhance worker safety through the adoption of new technologies or investment in equipment or facility improvements.
- Improve the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements.
- Improve operations through training opportunities.
- Modernize or expand existing facilities and manufacturing equipment or support the construction of new modern facilities.
- Construction of wastewater management structures, etc.;
- Develop, customize, or install equipment that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases efficiency in water use, improves air and water quality, and meets one or more of USDA’s climate action goals.
- Other goals identified by the Northwest Rocky Mountain Food Business Center that meet the Resilient Food System Infrastructure Program scope and requirements.
In March 2024, an industry advisory committee will evaluate proposals and recommend to the ODA Director on selecting the top-ranked applications. Selected applicants will be submitted to USDA in the Oregon State Plan Application. Projects chosen to receive funding will be announced in May 2024. Awarded funds are estimated to be available in August 2024 to begin project work.
ODA staff is available to provide applicants directions on submitting grant applications, and other information is available at https://oda.direct/RFSI or by contacting ODA’s Market Access and Certification Program at (503) 986-6473 or ResilientSystemGrant@oda.oregon.gov