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About the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program

USDA developed the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (“RFSI”) program to work with states and tribal governments across the US with the goal of developing and administering coordinated initiatives to build resilience across the middle-of-the-food-supply-chain within the states.

The RFSI RFR is now posted. The deadline to apply to the RFSI Grant Program is March 29, 2024.

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Apply to the RFSI Grant Program

Please visit this page for more information and to apply to the RFSI Grant Program.

What is the RFSI?

The RFSI will fund projects that expand capacity, aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.

MDAR plans to award grants to support infrastructure in the middle-of-the-supply-chain for domestic food and farm businesses and other eligible entities.

The food supply chain involves the following stages: production, processing, aggregation/distribution, and markets/consumers.For the purposes of this program, “middle-of-the-supply-chain” refers to the middle stages: processing and aggregation/distribution.

This program will fund infrastructure projects for organizations and businesses involved in "middle-of-the-supply-chain" activities. There will be additional guidance from USDA on eligibility in the upcoming weeks. 

The program also aims to:

  • Support development of value‐added products available to consumers;
  • Support projects that provide fair prices, fair wages and new and safe job opportunities that keep profits in rural communities; and
  • Increase diversity in processing options in terms of business model approaches, geography, and availability to underserved communities.

The program is intended to provide similar support provided in other USDA funding for meat and poultry processing, but for the non-meat and poultry sectors.

Who are the eligible entities?

This grant will work in two phases. For phase one, departments of agriculture in States and Territories are eligible to enter a Cooperative Agreement with USDA-AMS to receive funds. Lead Agencies of each State or Territory will submit a State Plan, which will include a list of funding priorities, no later than August 23rd, 2023.

Phase two begins once USDA has approved Massachusetts’ State Plan. MDAR will develop and release a Request for Response (RFR), asking for Infrastructure Grant applications from agricultural stakeholders and organizations. States are required to offer most of their RFSI funding to Infrastructure Grants through this competitive subawards process.

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.

All applicant businesses and organizations must be domestically owned, must be able to enter into a contract with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and have or be able to obtain a UEI from SAM.gov.

How much funding will be available?

Massachusetts has roughly $3.4 million available for RFSI funding. 

For Large-Scale Infrastructure Grant Projects (between $100,000 and $500,000) recipients are required to contribute 50% of the total proposed project cost as a match to federal funding. This applies to all applicants except those who qualify for the reduced match described below.

  • For historically underserved farmers and ranchers, or for other businesses that qualify under SBA categories of small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business, or veteran-owned small business, the required match funding contribution or cost share is reduced to 25% of the project cost. States must require that applicants self-certify in their Infrastructure Grant applications to being eligible for this reduced match.

For Simplified Equipment-Only Projects (between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases), recipients are not required to provide a match.

What are the next steps?

1. Funding Priorities for Massachusetts and Listening Session:

States are expected to perform outreach to interested parties, including underserved farmers and ranchers, new and beginning farmers or ranchers, veteran producers, farm and food businesses in supply chains for Target Local and Regional Agricultural Products, and underserved communities, prior to the development and release of the State’s request for responses for their Infrastructure Grants.

MDAR held a Listening Session to gather stakeholder feedback, that was used to determine funding priorities.The Listening Session was held on Monday July 24th from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Recording here.

Additionally, MDAR solicited feedback for RFSI funding priorities through an online survey, which can be found here. Survey will remain open unti RFR is posted.

2. MDAR release of Request for Response (RFR) for competitive Infrastructure Grant proposals:

MDAR expects to release an RFR for competitive Infrastructure Grant proposals in Fall 2023. More information will be provided including project requirements, allowable and unallowable costs, evaluation criteria, and project submission when the RFR is released.

More information

Targeting Local and Regional Agricultural Products:

RFSI is intended to serve middle-of-the-supply-chain needs to add value and provide more, new, and better markets for locally or regionally produced food. This program is to support food system crops and products meant for human consumption (excluding meat and poultry products, which are funded through other USDA programs).

Ineligible products include: meat and poultry, wild-caught seafood, exclusively animal feed and forage products, fiber, landscaping products, tobacco, or dietary supplements.

Expected timeline:

MDAR expects projects to begin in early 2024, with an end date of May 2027. All projects, including construction projects, must be completed within that timeframe.

Types of RFSI Infrastructure Grant projects:

MDAR will provide two types of grants:

Smaller Simplified Equipment-Only Projects:

These projects offer a simplified application to fund smaller grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases. The Simplified Equipment-Only option is a Fixed Price Grant, meaning it will fund only equipment purchases (and not associated facility upgrades, staffing, or other costs), and the amount awarded will be equal to the cost of the equipment up to $100,000. No match is required for this grant type. 

Large-Scale Infrastructure Grants

MDAR will also fund Large-Scale Infrastructure Grant Projects at up to $500,000. MDAR will focus on funding RFSI Infrastructure Grant projects 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.

Allowable activities under the infrastructure Grants may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Hiring term-limited personnel to assist with project implementation activities;

  • Purchasing special purpose equipment: defined in section 8.2 of the AMS General Terms and Conditions. This includes the purchase of special purpose equipment for institutions or others that will benefit multiple producers through middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural product;

  • Analyzing potential facility upgrades and changes that meet regulatory requirements, obtaining design and/or architecture services, etc. (to the extent these costs are directly related to the project);
  • Planning for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) or other food safety or worker safety measures or equipment recommendations; and
  • Upgrades or new facilities for processing specific agricultural products, such as:
    • On-farm post-harvest processing, preservation, and storage/cold storage;
    • Post-harvest cleaning and grading;
    • Aggregator warehouse and storage, including cooperatives;
    • Purchase of freezing equipment, freezer, or cold storage;
    • Processing, canning, preserving and pasteurization;
    • Preparation and packing;
    • Drying, hulling, shelling, and milling; and
    • Cooking, baking, juicing, distilling, fermenting.

Unallowable activities under the Infrastructure Grants include:

  • Acquiring real property (including land purchases), or any interest therein;

  • Projects focused on meat and poultry processing or other ineligible agricultural products;

  • Activities that have received a Federal award from another Federal award program;
  • Claim expenses that have been or will be reimbursed under any Federal, State, or local government funding; and
  • Projects which have already received funding from another federal grant or subaward programs may not receive funding for the same activities through an Infrastructure Grant. However, Infrastructure Grants may build on the successes of prior funding, such as the USDA Regional Food Business Centers Business Builder subawards, to fund subsequent activities.

MDAR will prioritize projects that benefit the following:

  • Underserved farmers and ranchers;

  • New and beginning farmers or ranchers;

  • Veteran producers;
  • Processors and other middle-of-the-supply businesses owned by socially disadvantaged individuals, as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Contact   for About the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program


100 Cambridge Street, Ste 900, Boston, MA 02114

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