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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

State grants available for growers and businesses to strengthen local food supply chain

Over $1.5M in Grants to Build Resilience Across RI's Food Supply Chain, Improve Processing Options for Local Producers and Businesses

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announce that more than $1,500,000 in Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Funding will be made available for projects that help support expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.

DEM’s RFSI Grant Program provides grants that directly support middle of the supply chain activities in Rhode Island. The grant application period will open on Nov. 1 and will close Jan. 15.

“Providing grants to local food businesses and producers is a critical part of DEM’s efforts to support a more locally based and resilient food system,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. 

“The RFSI grants will further advance our collective efforts to bolster Rhode Island’s supply chain resiliency and food security by helping provide capital improvement funding for local food infrastructure. The development of food infrastructure helps cultivate opportunities for the local food economy to grow across the supply chain and expands consumer access to fresh, locally produced food.”

RFSI will focus on funding Infrastructure Grant activities in each State that:

·       Expand capacity for processing, aggregation, and distribution of agricultural products to create more and better markets for producers.

·       Modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems.

·       Enhance worker safety through adoption of new technologies or investment in equipment or facility improvements.

·       Improve the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements.

·       Improve operations through training opportunities.

·       Support construction of a new facility.

·       Modernize 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.

·       Modernize processing and manufacturing equipment; and

·       Develop, customize, or install 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.

DEM anticipates that approximately $1,500,000 will be awarded under this grant round. DEM will also conduct supply chain coordination activities to develop and/or enhance initiatives that focus on business support and market development to benefit Rhode Island food systems and contributes to the success and impact of the RFSI Grant investments.

Two types of grants will be offered with this funding:

·       Infrastructure Grants: Will be awarded to projects starting at $200,000 unless otherwise noted in the RFP. Infrastructure grants have a required match component.

·       Special-Use Equipment Grants: Will be made up to a $100,000 maximum for special use equipment. No match is required for equipment grants.

Entities eligible for RFSI Infrastructure and Equipment Grants include:

·       Agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors.

·       Nonprofit organizations operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.

·       Local government entities operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.

·       Tribal governments operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.

·       Institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals bringing producers together to establish cooperative or shared infrastructure or invest in equipment that will benefit multiple producers middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural product. All applicant businesses and organizations must be domestically owned, and applicants’ facilities must be physically located within the borders of Rhode Island.

For more information on the RFSI Grant Program, please visit DEM’s website. Applications must completed online via the State of Rhode Island Grant’s Management System by Jan. 15, 2024 at 11:59 PM. Grant-related questions should be directed to Ananda Fraser, Chief Program Development in DEM’s Division of Agriculture and Forestry at 401-222-2781 Ext 2772411 or via email to

DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. 

There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. 

The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.