USDA and ODA Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program Announcement

February 28, 2024

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced a new cooperative agreement to allocate $12.4 million in Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI) funds to small and mid-size food producers in Ohio at the middle of the supply chain. The federal RFSI program was authorized the American Rescue Plan of 2021, and Congress had made $420 million available nationally.  Consistent with RFSI programmatic guidelines, Ohio intends to use its new share of funds to “create more and better processing centers, and increase accessible, affordable, and efficient distribution of Ohio products,” and to assist in the construction, expansion, and modernization of new facilities that improve the food production supply chain.

Who Can Benefit?

The program is intended for food producers in the middle of the supply chain; the RFP emphasizes that small businesses, veteran producers, and underserved producers are encouraged to apply.

Applicants Can Apply for Infrastructure Grants or Equipment Only Grants

While the program offers two types of grants, Infrastructure Grants and Equipment Only Grants, an applicant can only apply for one type of grant or the other. Competitive Infrastructure Grants will be considered for amounts between a minimum $100,000 and $3,000,000. Competitive Equipment Only Grants for equipment purchases have a minimum award amounts of $10,000 and a maximum award of $100,000. Grant funds are intended to support:

“expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products including specialty crops, dairy products, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.”

Infrastructure Grant Requirements

RFSI’s Program Terms and Conditions state that recipients of public infrastructure projects must coordinate with the Agricultural Marketing Service within USDA to ensure compliance with the Buy America Sourcing requirements contained in the “Build America, Buy America” provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  Additionally, grant recipients are subject to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and other applicable environmental laws (including the Endangered Species Act). As noted in the Terms and Conditions, NEPA compliance entails coordination with the State of Ohio on applicable permits, authorities and approvals before a grant award is made.

Application Deadline is March 15, 2024

ODA is currently soliciting projects and accepting applications for the RFSI program, through March 15, 2024. Detailed guidelines, including project requirements and eligibility can be found on the USDA’s website for the RFSI program.

KJK’s Economic Development & Incentives professionals will continue to monitor the USDA and ODA rollout of the RFSI program. To learn more about how you can benefit, contact members of KJK’s Economic Development & Incentives Team Rich Morehouse (RAM@kjk.com; 216.736.7292) or Charlie Bolton (chb@kjk.com; 216.736.7249).