The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) recently entered into a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to administer the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program for the State of Mississippi. This program, funded through Section 1001(b)(4) of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 (Pub. L. 117— 2), as amended, authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to make grants and agreements to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.
The purpose of this 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 of the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program is to create additional and better processing options for local producers across the state’s food supply chain.
Through the RFSI Program, MDAC will receive funding from USDA that will be subawarded to eligible entities in the form of infrastructure grants to middle-of-the-supply-chain businesses. RFSI investments aim to create a food systems infrastructure to support competitive and profitable market access for domestic farm products.
The RFSI program will focus on funding Infrastructure Grant activities 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.
Eligible foods 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.
Entities eligible for Infrastructure Grants made by states will be:
- 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.
The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is currently developing a State Plan that outlines the priorities and needs of the state as well as the details on how the Department will administer a competitive grant process to award the infrastructure grants.
In order to ensure the needs identified and priorities set are most beneficial to producers, the Department is seeking feedback from the public. MDAC is hosting stakeholder outreach listening sessions.
The public is invited to attend listening sessions to provide feedback on the middle-of-the-supply-chain infrastructure needs of the state. The listening sessions will be held:
- Thursday, July 6, at 10:00 a.m. at the Marks Community House, 300 Pecan Street, Marks, MS 38646
- Tuesday, July 11, at 10:00 a.m. at the Forestry Building at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, 1150 Lakeland Drive, Jackson, MS 39216
- Tuesday, July 18, at 10:00 a.m. at the Forrest County Extension Office, 952 Sullivan Drive Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Public comments can be submitted through July 30, 2023.
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