Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island DEM announced Monday that more than $1,500,000 in Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Funding will be made available for projects that help support expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry. DEM’s RFSI Grant Program provides grants that directly support middle of the supply chain activities in Rhode Island. The grant application period will open on Nov. 1 and will close Jan. 15.
“By helping local businesses and producers gain access to improved food infrastructure, the RFSI grants make Rhode Island’s local food system more resilient and inclusive,” said Governor Dan McKee. “The supply chain is at the heart of our local food system, and providing funding assistance for food infrastructure improvements allows Rhode Island’s vibrant food economy, food security, and supply chain resiliency to grow stronger.”
“Providing grants to local food businesses and producers is a critical part of DEM’s efforts to support a more locally based and resilient food system,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “The RFSI grants will further advance our collective efforts to bolster Rhode Island’s supply chain resiliency and food security by helping provide capital improvement funding for local food infrastructure. The development of food infrastructure helps cultivate opportunities for the local food economy to grow across the supply chain and expands consumer access to fresh, locally produced food.”
RFSI will focus on funding Infrastructure Grant activities in each State that:
o Expand capacity for processing, aggregation, and distribution of agricultural products to create more and better markets for producers.
o Modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems.
o Enhance worker safety through adoption of new technologies or investment in equipment or facility improvements.
o Improve the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements.
o Improve operations through training opportunities.
o Support construction of a new facility.
o Modernize or expand an existing facility (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/ or construction of new buildings at existing facilities).
o Construction of wastewater management structures, etc.
o Modernize processing and manufacturing equipment; and
o Develop, customize, or install equipment that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases efficiency in water use, improves air and/or water quality, and/or meets one or more of USDA’s climate action goals.
DEM anticipates that approximately $1,500,000 will be awarded under this grant round. DEM will also conduct supply chain coordination activities to develop and/or enhance initiatives that focus on business support and market development to benefit Rhode Island food systems and contributes to the success and impact of the RFSI Grant investments.
Two types of grants will be offered with this funding:
o Infrastructure Grants: Will be awarded to projects starting at $200,000 unless otherwise noted in the RFP. Infrastructure grants have a required match component.
o Special-Use Equipment Grants: Will be made up to a $100,000 maximum for special use equipment. No match is required for equipment grants.
Entities eligible for RFSI Infrastructure and Equipment Grants include:
o Agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors.
o Nonprofit organizations operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.
o Local government entities operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.
o Tribal governments operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.
o Institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals bringing producers together to establish cooperative or shared infrastructure or invest in equipment that will benefit multiple producers middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural product. All applicant businesses and organizations must be domestically owned, and applicants’ facilities must be physically located within the borders of Rhode Island.
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