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Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program

Overview

The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program will offer over $3.2 million in grants to Vermont businesses and organizations to strengthen local and regional food systems. The purpose of these grants, funded through the USDA Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure program, is to:

  • Build resilience in the middle of the food supply chain,
  • Support market development and new market opportunities for Vermont farms and food businesses,
  • Promote development of Vermont value-added products, and
  • Support fair prices, fair wages, and new and safe job opportunities

The Agency of Agriculture will award RFSI grants to improve the aggregation, distribution, manufacturing, processing, storing, transporting, and wholesaling of Vermont food products including specialty crops, dairy, grains, aquaculture, and value-added products.

There will be two grant tracks: an initial, larger infrastructure grant track and a simplified equipment-only grant track. Businesses can only receive one RFSI grant. Grants that benefit underserved community members, such as limited resource farmers, new and beginning farmers, and veteran producers will receive some prioritization in scoring. 

Please note that projects to support meat or poultry are excluded from this opportunity, per USDA stipulations. Projects that are exclusive to farming or farm production are not eligible for this funding. However, on-farm processing or value-added projects are eligible, as they fall within the middle of the supply chain suite of activities. 

Packaged Produce

Infrastructure Grant Track - Currently Closed

The infrastructure grant track is for larger-scale projects that expand capacity and infrastructure for aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, or distribution of locally and regionally produced food products. Projects can include items such as expanding processing capacities, modernizing equipment, modernizing IT systems, constructing new facilities, modernizing food safety plans, or climate-smart equipment.

Approximately $2,000,000 will be available for infrastructure projects. Grants can range from $100,000 - $500,000 and will run from fall 2024 through February 2027.

There is a 50% total project match required. Match can be reduced to 25% for historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

Full grant details are outlined in Request for Applications (RFA) and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below, which will be updated regularly.  Applications will be open from May 1, 2024 to June 5, 2024, with estimated notification of awards in September 2024, upon completion of USDA review and project approval. 

Equipment-Only Grant Track - Details Coming August 2024

The equipment-only grant track is a simplified application solely for equipment needed. The equipment and project it supports must align with RFSI grant parameters, ie it must be for middle of the supply chain activities, such as processing, aggregation, distribution, wholesaling, etc and meet other RFSI requirements.

Approximately $1,000,000 will be available for equipment-only projects. Grants range from $30,000 - $100,000.

There is no match requirement for the equipment-only track. 

Full grant details will be released in a Request for Applications (RFA) in mid August 2024. Applications will be open from late August 2024 through early October 2024, with estimated notification of awards in January 2025, upon completion of USDA review and project approval. 

Eligible Applicants

Farmers, food aggregators and distributors, food hubs, food processors and manufacturers, food retail operations, institutions such as schools or hospitals, nonprofit organizations, producer associations and cooperatives, local government entities, and universities are eligible to apply. 

How to Apply (Equipment-Only Track)

  1. Download the Request for Applications when it goes live in August 2024 
  2. Review the WebGrants Application GuideIf you have not previously registered in WebGrants, complete the registration form. User registrations are approved in 1–2 business days.
  3. View the Grantee Information Session Webinar that will be posted in late summer/early fall 2024
  4. Submit your application in WebGrants

Supporting Documents

In addition to the Request for Applications above, we will develop an FAQ that answers common questions about this grant. This FAQ will be updated periodically during the course of the grant and will be posted in early fall 2024.

Applicant Support

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) and Larklea are offering to RFSI applicants and grantees various forms of support and technical services including RFSI application support, infrastructure capital and financial planning technical assistance, and ongoing business coaching services.

For those who are interested in any of these support services, please fill out the very short survey so VSJF and Larklea can understand your project and service needs: https://forms.office.com/r/Q7tG3vdSqb.

If you have questions about these services or the form, please contact Jake Claro (jake@vsjf.org) and Tad Cooke (tad@larklea.com).  

Supply Chain Coordination

In addition to grant funding, there are RFSI funds set aside to support Supply Chain Coordination to develop and enhance initiatives that focus on business support and market development, in addition to supporting the success of RFSI grant-funded projects, as outlined in Applicant Support above.

VAAFM and partners will be providing business and technical assistance to organizations working to plan, develop, and execute projects that enhance the middle-of-the-supply-chain. There will also be additional efforts that will support activities in the middle of the supply chain across the state, outside of any grant funds. More information on this coming soon!

Program Contact

Julia Scheier
Julia.Scheier@vermont.gov
802-522-7042

News & Updates

Subscribe to the Vermont Ag Bulletin for weekly updates on grants and other opportunities.