Regional Food System Partnerships Now Open for FY 2022

Applications are now being accepted for the FY 2022 USDA Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) with applications due May 16, 2022. Applicants are eligible to receive up to $1 million in grant funding through the program, as detailed below. Approximately $40 million is currently available.

What does the Regional Food System Partnership Program Support? The RFSP supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The RFSP focuses on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience, and this includes pandemic response and recovery.

Applicants will work with their partners to catalyze the development of local or regional food systems. Applicants will coordinate efforts within the partnership to set priorities, connect resources and services, and measure progress towards common goals.

Who is eligible to apply? 
  • Independent producers
  • Farmer or Rancher Cooperative
  • Producer Network or Association
  • Majority-Controller Producer-Based Business Venture
  • Food Council
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Network or Association
  • Local Governments
  • Nonprofit Corporations
  • Public Benefit Corporations
  • Economic Development Corporations
  • Regional Farmers Market Authorities
  • Tribal Governments
What projects are eligible for this program? Under this funding opportunity, RFSP offers three project types:
  1. Planning and Design Projects: Planning and Design projects support partnerships in the early stages of convening, envisioning, and planning processes for developing local or regional food systems, including for pandemic recovery. Through these processes, partnerships can determine the goals, outreach, objectives, and eligible activities to be carried out in the regional food system, including defining the region’s parameters (economic, geographic, etc.). Specifically, these projects support a food system’s capacity to develop and build community connections (public and private) that allow a region to engage in activities that drive the discovery and promotion of collaboration opportunities within the food system. Emphasis is placed on inclusively seeking public and private collaborators that connect and cultivate regional food economies and diverse non-Federal financial and technical resources. Examples of eligible project activities for these partnerships include but are not limited to:
    • Convening established and potential partners, such as current or past FMLFPP or VAPG grantees, to define the regional food system scope and structure, share opportunities and challenges, and develop an approach that is inclusive of any potential members of a regional food system.
    • Creating and conducting feasibility studies, implementation plans, and assessments, including studies analyzing capital needs and gaps.
    • Conducting research on specific market, mid-tier value chain, or infrastructure investments or policy analysis to prioritize next steps at the local, regional, state, and tribal government level.
    • Connecting food value chain entities with partners and funders to engage in activities that strengthen the regional food system, such as providing technical assistance to food system enterprises seeking capital investments or initiating and monitoring projects associated with other LAMP programs.
    • Researching possible metrics to measure and evaluate the partnership’s early development work and to identify ways to use and improve them to establish time-defined performance benchmarks for achieving partnership goals.
  2. Implementation and Expansion Projects: Implementation and Expansion projects support partnerships building on prior or ongoing efforts within a local or regional food system. Partnerships funded in this track will have already completed most or all of the activities discussed above for Planning and Design projects. Applicants should describe how the goals, objectives, and activities in their proposal build on and/or align with previous efforts, clearly engage entities with a shared commitment to the regional food system, and maintain a diverse public-private network that enhances food system development. Examples of eligible project activities for these partnerships include but are not limited to:
    • Creating innovative value chains in which producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related actors form collaborative, transparent partnerships with a commitment to shared operational values and social mission goals.
    • Institutionalizing processes for ongoing community and business engagement to ensure sustainable approaches meet regional needs and provide a forum for ideas, concerns, and updates.
    • Supporting food system efforts to analyze capital needs and gaps.
    • Identifying resources for food system enterprises, providing technical assistance for partnership activities such as fiscal sponsorship, and applying for programs and resources that align with regional food
  3. Farm to Institution Projects: Farm to Institution projects support public-private partnerships that plan and develop relationships between local and regional producers, processors, intermediaries, and institutional markets or institutional food service operations, such as dining facilities within pre-K through grade 12 schools, college, university, hospital, local government, tribal, and state agency cafeterias or meal programs, through local and regional producers and local and regional food systems. Examples of eligible project activities for these partnerships include but are not limited to:
    • Connect eligible entities with institutional food operations to increase the availability of local food products on the menu of college, university, hospital, and public dining facilities, and of hospital and local government, tribal, and state-operated or contracted meal programs (e.g., patient meals in hospitals, pre-K through grade 12 school meals, senior meal programs, afterschool/summer meal programs, and meals programs in jails, detention centers, and prisons).
    • Develop business plans and strategies for establishing partnerships with local or regional food producers, processors, intermediaries, and institutional settings.
    • Support food safety certification related to farm to institution and improvements to food safety practices and equipment.
    • Strengthen institutional local food and regional food system capacity through community collaboration and expansion of the mid-tier value chains.

What are the funding levels? Applicants applying for planning grant funds can request a minimum $100,000 to a maximum $250,000 in grant funds. Applicants applying for working capital grant funds or Farm to Institution grant funds can request a minimum $250,000 to a maximum of $1 million in grant funds.

Is there a cost-sharing/match requirement? This funding opportunity requires matching funds from non-Federal sources in the form of cash in an amount equal to or greater than 25% of the total Federal portion of the grant.

What is the grant duration? Planning grants are typically completed within 24 months; Working Capital grants and Farm to Institution grants within 36 months.

What is the anticipated award timeline? Applications are due on May 16, 2022. Projects are expected to begin October 31, 2022.

The request for applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.

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