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Deadline: May 16, 2022

US Department of Agriculture: Regional Food System Partnerships

The Regional Food System Partnerships Program (RFSP) supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The RFSP focuses on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience, and this includes pandemic response and recovery. Applicants will work with their partners to catalyze the development of local or regional food systems. Applicants will coordinate efforts within the partnership to set priorities, connect resources and services, and measure progress towards common goals.

Applications are welcomed that meet goals to support the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises, and value-added agricultural products. Primary goals include:

  • Connect and cultivate regional food economies through public-private partnerships.
  • Support the development of business plans, feasibility studies, and strategies for value-added agricultural production and local and regional food system infrastructure.
  • Strengthen capacity and regional food system development through community collaboration and expansion of mid-tier value chains.
  • Improve income and economic opportunities for producers and food businesses through job creation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages applications from partnerships that engage with smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities. It further encourages applicants to consider including goals and activities related to reducing and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or adapting to the already occurring climate change in their project’s design and implementation.

RFSP offers Planning and Design, Implementation and Expansion, and Farm to Institution project types:

  • Planning and Design: These grants will support partnerships in the early stages of convening, envisioning, and planning processes for developing local or regional food systems, including for pandemic recovery. Through these processes, partnerships can determine the goals, outreach, objectives, and eligible activities to be carried out in the regional food system, including defining the region’s parameters (economic, geographic, etc.). Specifically, these projects support a food system’s capacity to develop and build community connections (public and private) that allow a region to engage in activities that drive the discovery and promotion of collaboration opportunities within the food system. Emphasis is placed on inclusively seeking public and private collaborators that connect and cultivate regional food economies and diverse non-Federal financial and technical resources.
  • Implementation and Expansion: Implementation and Expansion projects support partnerships building on prior or ongoing efforts within a local or regional food system. Partnerships funded in this track will have already completed most or all of the activities discussed above for Planning and Design projects. Applicants should describe how the goals, objectives, and activities in their proposal build on and/or align with previous efforts, clearly engage entities with a shared commitment to the regional food system, and maintain a diverse public-private network that enhances food system development.
  • Farm to Institution: Farm to Institution projects support public-private partnerships that plan and develop relationships between local and regional producers, processors, intermediaries, and institutional markets or institutional food service operations, such as dining facilities within pre-K through grade 12 schools, college, university, hospital, local government, tribal, and state agency cafeterias or meal programs, through local and regional producers and local and regional food systems.

Amount: Approximately $40 million will be available to fund applications under this solicitation. RFSP Planning and Design projects range from $100,000 to $250,000, while Implementation and Expansion projects, and Farm to Institutions projects range from $250,000 to $1,000,000.

Eligibility: Partnerships must bring a variety of financial and technical capabilities, demonstrate experience or readiness to work effectively and collaboratively with public and private entities across sectors, and present innovative, sustainable, and measurable approaches to achieving the project’s goals.

  • Eligible lead entities include: producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, producer networks or associations, majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, food councils, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks or associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments.
  • Eligible partners include: state agencies or regional authorities, philanthropic corporations, private corporations, institutions of higher education, and commercial, federal or farm credit system lending institutions.

Link: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/rfsp/apply

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