Saturday, April 20, 2024

LDAF Accepting Applications for Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant

by BIZ Magazine

Baton Rouge, LA – The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) has announced the commencement of the application process for the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program (RFSI). Partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), LDAF will allocate $4.6 million in grants to support equipment and infrastructure projects for Louisiana’s food and farm businesses, along with other eligible entities such as nonprofits, local government bodies, tribal governments, schools, and hospitals. The application window opens on February 7, 2024, and will remain open until April 15, 2024.

The primary objective of the RFSI program is to enhance resilience within the middle-of-the-food-supply-chain, amplify and streamline markets for small farms and local businesses, and foster the development of value-added products for consumers, which will result in equitable prices, fair wages, and new job opportunities.

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain emphasized the significance of the RFSI grants in fortifying the local supply chain that facilitates the journey of locally produced food to consumers’ tables. He expressed optimism regarding the prospects of this funding, anticipating its role in creating novel opportunities, bolstering markets for local farmers, and enhancing stability for consumers.

Under the cooperative agreement with the USDA, LDAF will orchestrate initiatives aimed at reinforcing Louisiana’s middle-of-the-food-supply-chain. The funds will facilitate the expansion of capacity for aggregating, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distributing locally and regionally produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for consumption, and aquaculture. Notably, RFSI funds will not cover meat, wild-caught seafood, and poultry products, as these items are supported by other USDA programs.

Applications will undergo evaluation through a competitive review process in collaboration with the USDA-Agriculture Marketing Service. Criteria for assessment will include the project’s necessity, anticipated outcomes, feasibility, and its potential impact on the local food supply chain. The LDAF encourages applications targeting underserved farmers and ranchers, novice and emerging agricultural entities, veteran producers and processors, and other middle-of-the-supply-chain businesses owned by socially disadvantaged individuals.

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. CT. Information sessions featuring application training will be conducted across Louisiana from February 5, 2024, to February 9, 2024. Interested parties are advised to download and carefully review the Request for Applications available at LDAF’s official website. Further details, including training dates and locations, and frequently asked questions about the RFSI grant process, can be accessed at the same link, or by contacting [email protected].

The LDAF and USDA are expected to announce the selected projects receiving funding during the summer. To apply for RFSI grants or for additional information, please visit LDAF’s website.

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