WARWICK – U.S. Sen. Jack Reed last week brought together federal, state and local food officials – including representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – and producers from around the state for a forum about federal funding opportunities available from the USDA to support area agriculture, local food businesses and the Rhode Island economy.
The workshop focused on efforts to help boost marketing and sales, support direct farm-to-fork programs and improve food-system distribution and sustainability.
According to a news release, funding opportunities highlighted at the forum included:
• The Farmers Market and Local Foods Promotion Program, which makes $30 million available annually to farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer venues.
• Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program: a $48 million, low-interest loan program available for local food projects through Rural Development’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantees.
• Value-added Producer Grants, available to help agricultural producers create new products, expand marketing, support further processing of existing products or goods, or to develop specialty and niche products. •