FRANKFORT, Ky. — Applications are now open for those wanting to take advantage of $8.6 million in grants being awarded to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to strengthen local and regional food systems, Agriculture Commissioner Jonathan Shell has announced.
“Expanding and strengthening our food systems is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall agricultural output,” Agriculture Commissioner Jonathan Shell said. “This is an exciting grant opportunity for our producers throughout Kentucky to take advantage of as we look for better and more reliant ways to protect our food systems.”
The money was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program as part of an overall $420 million the USDA committed to states to build resilience in the middle of the supply chain and strengthen local and regional food systems by creating new revenue streams for producers.
Eligible projects include those that expand capacity for aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of food products, for specialty crops, dairy, grains for consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.
Prior to KDA submitting its state plan to USDA for the reimbursement of the funds, the Department identified needs and priorities in the state through farmer and industry input.
The funds for RFSI come out of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for states and territories using formula funding. To award its share, KDA will work in partnership with USDA to make competitive subawards to support infrastructure and equipment grants. The grants will be awarded in two funding streams: Infrastructure and Equipment-only.
Infrastructure grant applicants can apply for a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $3 million. Recipients are required to contribute 50 percent of the total proposed project cost as a match to the federal funding. Some historically underserved farmers and other businesses may be eligible for a reduced match of 25 percent.
Equipment-Only project applicants can apply for grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases, with no match required.
Some of the identified areas the RFSI competitive grants will focus funding toward are:
- Expanding capacity for processing, aggregation and distribution of agricultural products to create more and better markets for producers;
- Modernizing manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems;
- Enhancing worker safety through adoption of new technologies or investment in equipment or facility improvements;
- Improving the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements;
- Improving operations through training opportunities;
- Supporting construction of a new facility;
- Modernizing or expand an existing facility (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/ or construction of new buildings at existing facilities);
- Construction of wastewater management structures, etc.;
- Modernizing processing and manufacturing equipment; and
- Developing, customizing, or installing 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.
To find more information about the applications or the available grants, visit the RFSI page on the KDA website.