New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher announced recently that the NJ Department of Agriculture is a partner in a recently announced United States Department of Agriculture national initiative developed to help farmers and food businesses access new markets and available federal, state, and local resources, such as technical assistance and funding opportunities. The USDA awarded the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation $38.4 million to establish a Regional Food Business Center to serve the agricultural industry in 11 states across the Northeast.
“The availability of these funds will provide a resource to assist New Jersey farmers so they can better serve their constituents and serve as a tool to start new operations or upgrade current businesses,” Fisher said. “We will be working with farmers and food businesses to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The goal of the grant program will be to expand agricultural production and processing, increase the amount of regionally grown products, create new products, encourage the development of food hubs, and strengthen the food supply chain. NASDA’s Regional Food Business Center will also focus the outreach and inclusion of its services to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in the agricultural industry.
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is providing a minimum funding allocation of $2 million for all states regardless of size or production. Infrastructure Grant applicants can apply for a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $3 million.
Other states included in the Northeast service area are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
The program is part of the creation of 12 new USDA Regional Food Business Centers across the U.S. that will provide national coverage coordination to help farmers, ranchers, and other food businesses access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources to facilitate success. Overall, the USDA is making available $420 million for the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI). The AMS is partnering with state and territories’ departments of agriculture for this program.
For more information and a fact sheet about the program, go to ams.usda.gov/services/grants/rfsi.