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MDARD Director Applauds $8 Million USDA Investment to Strengthen Michigan’s Food Supply Chain Infrastructure

Grant applications available until June 17, 2024

LANSING, Mich. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced a cooperative agreement with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) under the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI) investing $8 million in competitive grant funding. Through this agreement, USDA and Michigan are working together to award grants for projects designed to build resilience across the middle of the state’s supply chain. MDARD is accepting applications for RFSI grant funding through June 17, 2024.

“The Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration continues to prioritize resiliency in our local and regional food systems that are the foundation for our communities and economic growth,” said MDARD Director Tim Boring. “I appreciate our partners at USDA who continue to invest in Michigan’s food systems and will help us support projects that benefit Michigan’s food and agriculture industry.”

Through the program funding, MDARD will support supply chain coordination and technical assistance to farmers and food businesses operating in processing, aggregation, and distribution—all critical activities to support access to more and better markets for farmers.

In May 2023, USDA announced the availability of up to $420 million through RFSI to strengthen local and regional food systems. Through this program, AMS has entered into cooperative agreements with state agencies, commissions, or departments responsible for agriculture, commercial food processing, seafood, or food system and distribution activities or commerce activities in states or U.S. territories. RFSI is authorized by the American Rescue Plan.

“This partnership between USDA and Michigan is allowing critical funding to reach areas of the supply chain that need it most,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The projects funded through this program will create new opportunities for the region’s small and midsize producers to thrive, expand access to nutritious food options, and increase supply chain resiliency.”

Using RFSI funding, MDARD will fund projects supporting expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products including specialty crops, dairy products, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.

Working with stakeholders, MDARD has identified the below program priorities within Michigan and will prioritize funding projects that address building a more resilient food system across the state. The review panel will evaluate projects based on the following criteria and priority areas.

Projects that will:

  • Expand capacity for processing, aggregation, and distribution of agricultural products to create more and better markets for producers
  • Modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems
  • Modernize or expand an existing facility (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/or construction of new buildings at existing facilities)
  • Support construction of a new facility
  • Modernize processing and manufacturing equipment

Projects that benefit:

  • Underserved farmers and ranchers (as defined by USDA)
  • New and beginning farmers or ranchers
  • Processors and other middle-of-the-supply businesses owned by socially disadvantaged individuals (as defined by the Small Business Administration)
  • Veteran producers

Projects that enhance:

  • Focus on small and medium-sized enterprises that add options and choices for consumers and producers (emphasis on value-added)
  • Demonstrate local support for the project
  • Offer family-supporting job quality and treatment/safety of workers
  • Support underserved communities
  • Are submitted by cooperatives, farmer- and worker-owned enterprises

Project goals that prioritize the following markets:

  • Specialty markets/stores
  • Farmers markets
  • Restaurants
  • Corner stores
  • Distributors (receives produce and sells to retail, restaurants, and other manufacturers)
  • Other top comments:
    • Direct to end consumer sales such as on farm sales, CSAs, home delivery, and online sales

Those interested in receiving a subaward should apply directly through MDARD’s MiAgGrants Grants Management System by June 17, 2024. AMS encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities. MDARD will be offering an informational webinar on May 15, as well as virtual and in person technical assistance for applicants. Additional details on the webinar and technical assistance can be found on the program website.

For more information, visit the USDA-AMS Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure webpage.


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