• Kristin Cooper

Regional Food System Partnerships Fiscal Year 2021 Request for Applications

Application Due Date: 11:59 PM Eastern Time on July 6, 2021

Executive Summary: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), requests applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grant program. AMS will competitively award grants to eligible applicants for projects that meet the purpose of this grant program.

The RFSP supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The RFSP focuses on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience, and this includes pandemic response and recovery. Applicants will work with their partners to catalyze the development of local or regional food systems. Applicants will coordinate efforts within the partnership to set priorities, connect resources and services, and measure progress towards common goals. Partnerships are authorized to:

• Determine the size and scope of the local or regional food system in which the project’s goals, outreach objectives, and eligible activities are to be carried out.

• Coordinate with AMS to receive technical assistance; and

• Conduct outreach and education for potential participation in the partnership agreement and eligible activities. Partnerships must bring a variety of financial and technical capabilities, demonstrate experience or readiness to work effectively and collaboratively with public and private entities across sectors, and present innovative, sustainable, and measurable approaches to achieving the project’s goals.

RFSP offers Planning and Design and Implementation and Expansion project types.

PLANNING AND DESIGN PROJECTS Planning and Design projects support partnerships in the early stages of convening, envisioning, and planning processes for developing local or regional food systems, including for pandemic recovery.

Through these processes, partnerships can determine the goals, outreach, objectives, and eligible activities to be carried out in the regional food system, including defining the region’s parameters (economic, geographic, etc.). Specifically, these projects support a food system’s capacity to develop and build community connections (public and private) that allow a region to engage in activities that drive the discovery and promotion of collaboration opportunities within the food system. Emphasis is placed on inclusively seeking public and private collaborators that connect and cultivate regional food economies and diverse non-Federal financial and technical resources.

Examples of eligible project activities for these partnerships include but are not limited to:

• Convening established and potential partners, such as current or past FMLFPP or VAPG grantees, to define the regional food system scope and structure, share opportunities and challenges, and develop an approach that is inclusive of any potential members of a regional food system.

• Creating and conducting feasibility studies, implementation plans, and assessments, including studies analyzing capital needs and gaps.

• Conducting research on specific market, mid-tier value chain, or infrastructure investments or policy analysis to prioritize next steps at the local, regional, state, and tribal government level.

• Connecting food value chain entities with partners and funders to engage in activities that strengthen the regional food system, such as providing technical assistance to food system enterprises seeking capital investments or initiating and monitoring projects associated with other LAMP programs.

• Researching possible metrics to measure and evaluate the partnership’s early development work and identify ways to use and improve them to establish time-defined performance benchmarks for achieving partnership goals.

IMPLEMENTATION AND EXPANSION PROJECTS Implementation and Expansion projects support partnerships building on prior or ongoing efforts within a local or regional food system. Partnerships funded in this track will have already completed most or all the activities discussed above for Planning and Design projects. Applicants should describe how the goals, objectives, and activities in their proposal build on and/or align with previous efforts, clearly engage entities with a shared commitment to the regional food system and maintain a diverse public private network that enhances food system development. Examples of eligible project activities for these partnerships include but are not limited to:

Connecting eligible entities and partners to meet identified needs in transporting local agricultural products to market, including those impacted by COVID-19.

• Creating innovative value chains in which producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related actors form collaborative, transparent partnerships with a commitment to shared operational values and social mission goals, which may include value chains that respond to COVID-19 impacts to the food system.

• Prioritizing strategies to fill food systems gaps, meet stakeholder needs, and facilitate market opportunities and food access solutions.

• Institutionalizing processes for ongoing community and business engagement to ensure sustainable approaches meet regional needs and provide a forum for ideas, concerns, and updates.

• Conducting research on specific market, mid-tier value chain, or infrastructure investments or policy analysis to prioritize next steps at the local, regional, state, and tribal government level.

• Supporting food system efforts to analyze capital needs and gaps.

• Increasing stakeholder awareness of regulatory considerations and market channel requirements that may impede the ability of food value chains to access certain channels and assisting producers in navigating such systems.

• Identifying resources for food system enterprises, providing technical assistance for partnership activities such as fiscal sponsorship, and applying for programs and resources that align with regional food system efforts, including other LAMP programs or those seeking capital investments.

• Evaluating the partnership’s expansion work and establishing time-defined performance measures for achieving partnership goals.

Please contact us for more information and a copy of the full RFP.

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