KDA seeking input on identifying needs of agriculture community for USDA grant


A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant could mean big things for some Kentucky agricultural producers.

Recently, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture was awarded $8.6 million through the USDA’s Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program. The money, which will be provided through a competitive grant process, is 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.

In the near future, KDA will finalize its state plan for the RFSI program and submit it to USDA for approval.  As we work to complete the plan, I welcome farmer and industry input to assist us in identifying the needs and priorities in the commonwealth.  I encourage you to email your thoughts and ideas to us by Aug. 31, at Ag.Web@ky.gov.

The funds for RFSI come out of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) for states and territories via formula funding.  To award its share, KDA will work in partnership with USDA to make competitive subawards to support infrastructure and equipment grants.

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 business may be eligible for a reduced match of 25 percent. 

Individual producers will have an opportunity to apply for Equipment-Only Projects.  These projects will be eligible for grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases, with no match required.

Some of the identified areas the RFSI 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.

I look forward to hearing your input on the development of our state plan and providing information on the application process later this fall.  Until then, my staff and I are always ready to listen and gain your input on providing opportunities for Kentucky’s farm families.

Visit the RFSI website for additional information and resources at: www.ams.usda.gov/rfsi.

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