OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has awarded more than $16 million in grants to help small farms and food businesses recover from the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. Lawmakers designed the Local Food System Infrastructure Grants to improve the strength and resilience of Washington’s food systems.
Applicants submitted proposals in record numbers, with requests totaling more than $148 million, more than nine times the funding available.
“The remarkable level of interest in these grants demonstrates the clear need to invest in local food system infrastructure in Washington,” said Laura Raymond, WSDA Regional Markets Program Manager. “Each application represented an opportunity to build the capacity and resilience of our food system; we really wish we could fund a lot more of these interesting activities.
Applications have been accepted from farmers, ranchers, food processors, food distributors and other small businesses and organizations that aggregate, process, manufacture, transport, store or sell food that has been grown, caught or raised in Washington State for Washington consumers.
Grant amounts ranged from $10,000 to $750,000. Grant recipients can use grant funds for costs of improving local food system post-harvest infrastructure and market access, such as equipment, facility improvements, chain coordination supply and market access, food security improvements, workforce development and related operating costs.
The Washington State Legislature provided US Federal Stimulus Act funds to improve local food system infrastructure, supply chains and market access for farms, food processors and food distributors. The legislature prioritized supporting small businesses, including those owned by women and minorities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected small farms and food businesses,” said Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “Recovering and supporting small businesses engaged in the local food supply system is key to building resilience and ensuring adequate food supplies are available to protect public health.”
For future grant opportunities, visit agr.wa.gov/grants. This grant program is part of the WSDA’s Focus on Food initiative, which ensures the efficient production and distribution of healthy, nutritious food throughout Washington State.