USDA Invests $270 Million To Strengthen Local Food Systems

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News in brief:
– USDA announces $270 million grants to strengthen local and regional food systems through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program.
– Seven states open applications, allocating funds to support infrastructure, supply chain coordination, and technical assistance.

Yesterday, Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a milestone in bolstering food supply chain resilience, with over $270 million granted through cooperative agreements with state agriculture departments.

The initiative, known as the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program, aims to fortify local and regional food systems. The USDA, via its Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is administering the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program.

Through a competitive grant process, states will issue sub-awards to various entities, including agricultural producers, processors, nonprofit organisations, local governments, tribal governments, schools, universities, and hospitals. The funding will not only support infrastructure but also supply chain coordination and technical assistance, enhancing the overall resiliency of the food system.

Secretary Vilsack, during the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s 2024 Winter Policy Conference, announced that Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Utah, and West Virginia have opened their Request for Applications. These states join the 28 others already offering grant funding for supply chain infrastructure projects. Presently, there is $230 million available in Infrastructure Grant funding nationwide.

Impact on local farmers

Vilsack emphasised that these investments will benefit consumers by ensuring reliable access to fresh, locally produced food. Moreover, it will create new markets for small and mid-size producers, fostering economic growth in rural communities. The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program, authorised by the American Rescue Plan, focuses on retaining more value chain dollars within these communities.

State allocations and focus areas

These seven states announced their allocations and focus areas:

  • Colorado: $4.1 million awarded, $3 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • Connecticut: $2.7 million awarded, $2.1 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • Delaware: $2.1 million awarded, $1.7 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • Kentucky: $8.6 million awarded, $7 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • Louisiana: $6.2 million awarded, $4.6 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • Utah: $3 million awarded, $2.3 million available in Infrastructure Grants.
  • West Virginia: $4.5 million awarded, $3.6 million available in Infrastructure Grants.

Interested parties can apply directly through the states’ respective state agriculture departments, with updates available on the AMS website.

The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program aligns with USDA’s broader vision under the Biden-Harris administration, emphasising resilient local and regional food production, fair markets, and equitable access to nutritious food. It marks a significant step towards transforming America’s food system for a sustainable future.

Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Gift Ohabughiro has a background in English and Literary Studies from Imo State University. She brings a fresh perspective to the world of agriculture writing. When she's not penning compelling content, she's likely lost in the pages of a thrilling mystery or treating herself to the sinful delight of chocolate.

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