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Nearly $6 million made available to boost Mississippi’s food supply chain

Image courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture

A partnership between the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the United States Department of Agriculture will provide nearly $6 million to strengthen the state’s food supply chain.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson announced that the two government agencies entered into a cooperative agreement to administer the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program in Mississippi, which supplies the funding to boost the food supply chain.

The purpose of the RFSI Program is to assist states in building resilience in the middle of the supply chain and strengthening local food systems by creating new revenue streams for producers. The goal in mind is to create additional and better processing options for local producers.

“Having a strong, resilient food supply chain is crucial for our food security,” Gipson said. “This partnership with USDA will provide the State of Mississippi a strategic opportunity to strengthen our state’s food supply chain and increase marketing opportunities for our farmers while increasing consumers’ access to local foods.”

MDAC will fund projects that expand capacity for processing, aggregation, and distribution of agricultural products. The department will also construct and expand infrastructure facilities, modernize equipment,  purchase refrigerated trucks, and implement new technology systems.

Eligible foods under the USDA grant guidelines include specialty crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products. Meat and poultry, wild-caught seafood, exclusively animal feed and forage products, fiber, landscaping products, tobacco, and dietary supplements are excluded under the USDA grant guidelines.

RFSI funds will be awarded as infrastructure grants or equipment-only grants. Infrastructure grants will be awarded at a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $3 million. Equipment-only grants will be awarded at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000.

Infrastructure grants require a 50 percent match contribution to match federal funds. Historically underserved farmers and ranchers and other qualifying socially disadvantaged businesses are required to contribute a reduced 25 percent match. Equipment-only grants do not require a match.

“This partnership between USDA and Mississippi is allowing critical funding to reach areas of the supply chain that need it most,” USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt said.

“The projects funded through this program will create new opportunities for the region’s small and midsize producers to thrive, expand access to nutritious food options, and increase supply chain resiliency.”

Entities eligible to apply include:

  • Agricultural producers or processors
  • Institutions such as schools
  • Universities or hospitals
  • For-profit entities
  • Nonprofit entities
  • Local governments and tribal governments operating middle of the supply chain activities

Priority will be given to projects that benefit:

  • Underserved farmers and ranchers
  • New and beginning farmers or ranchers
  • Veteran producers
  • Processors owned by socially disadvantaged individuals

All applicant businesses and organizations must be domestically owned, and applicants’ facilities must be physically located within Mississippi.

MDAC will conduct four meetings and one webinar to educate the public on this program opportunity. Meetings will be held on January 23 in Cleveland, January 25 in Verona, January 30 in Jackson, and February 1 in Hattiesburg. The webinar will be held on February 2. Interested applicants can register here.

The deadline to apply for RFSI’s infrastructure grant or equipment-only grant is March 15 at 5:00 p.m. All completed applications must be electronically submitted to rfsi@mdac.ms.gov.

To view the request for applications, download applications, and obtain additional information about the RFSI Program, click here.

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