OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has awarded $6.3 million in Local Food System Infrastructure Grants to support local food system infrastructure, supply chains, and market access for farms, food processors, food distributors, and meat processors. WSDA funded a total of 96 projects including 85 with $5.6 million in state funding and 11 with $750,000 in one-time Federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery funds which the WA state legislature allocated specifically for meat processing capacity grants.

There were 442 applications submitted, with requests totaling over $62 million dollars– more than ten times the available funding.

Applicants ranged from farmers, ranchers, food processors, food distributors, and other small businesses and organizations that aggregate, process, manufacture, transport, store, or sell foods that have been grown, caught, or raised in Washington state for Washington consumers.

Laura Raymond, manager of the WSDA Regional Markets Program, explained that “The on-going level of interest in these grants demonstrates the clear need for investment in local food system infrastructure in Washington. Each proposal represented an opportunity to build capacity and resilience into our food system; we really wish we could fund many more of these worthwhile activities.”

Grant amounts ranged from $5,000 to $370,000. Recipients will use these grant funds to improve local food system post-harvest infrastructure and market access with equipment, facility improvements, supply chain and market access coordination, food safety improvements, workforce development, and related operating costs.

Derek Sandison, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, stated “The organizations that received assistance through these programs have demonstrated the important role they play in maintaining a vibrant and robust local food system. Recovery and support of small businesses engaged in the local food supply system is essential to enhancing resiliency and ensuring that adequate food supplies are available to protect public health.”

Both WA state and the federal government are creating new grants and providing technical assistance to help fulfill this need for stronger local food system infrastructures that can support local economies and foster healthy communities.

Local Food System Infrastructure Grants and Local Meat and Poultry Assistance are projects of the Regional Markets Program that contribute to WSDA’s Focus on Food Initiative, ensuring that safe, nutritious food is effectively produced and distributed throughout Washington.

For future grant opportunities, visit agr.wa.gov/grants.

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