PROVIDENCE – As part of its continued efforts to grow the state's green economy, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) in partnership with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC) invite local farm and food businesses to join a webinar this week on the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grant program. Applications for this year's LASA grant awards are due on March 8.
The webinar will take place at 1 PM on Wednesday, February 13. It will include an overview of the LASA Grant Program priorities, eligibility requirements, assistance, awards/administration, and review/scoring of grant applications. A question-and-answer session will be held at the end of the webinar. Advance registration is required.
To register for the webinar, click here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
"LASA grants boost our state's vibrant food economy and the competitiveness of Rhode Island-grown agricultural products and local seafood," said DEM Agriculture Chief Ken Ayars. "We encourage farmers, fishers, and food businesses looking to start or expand their operations in Rhode Island to join this week's webinar and learn tips on preparing a competitive grant application."
"The RI Food Policy Council wants to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to successfully submit a proposal to the RI Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grants program," said RIFPC Network Director Nessa Richman. "This free webinar will cover program priorities, eligibility, scoring, award administration, and more. If you can't make the webinar, we'll be posting the recording on our website afterward." RIFPC partners with DEM to administer the LASA Program, with a mission to promote a more accessible, equitable, and sustainable food system in RI.
Now in its sixth year, LASA helps new and existing small businesses and food initiatives prosper in Rhode Island. To date, LASA has provided over $1.1 million – through grants up to $20,000 – to support the growth of Rhode Island's local food economy. The state's food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state's green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually.
In addition to this grant program, DEM continues to work across many fronts to strengthen Rhode Island's green economy and assist local farmers in growing their businesses. Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network, ranking second nationally in percent of farms owned by beginning farmers. And the state is one of few nationally where the number of farms is on the rise. There are more than 1,200 farms in Rhode Island – an increase of 44 percent from 2002. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge and Snake Den farm properties.
For more information on the LASA program or to apply, visit DEM's website. Online applications are highly preferred and must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Friday, March 8. The application is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GDCZX6C or on the RI Food Policy Council website's LASA page at: http://rifoodcouncil.org/lasa-grants-program/.
Additional information, including instructions for completing the application, is available on DEM's website at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/agriculture/documents/lasaguidelines.pdf. Hand-delivered and mailed applications must be received by DEM's Division of Agriculture by 4 PM on March 8. Awards will be announced as part of Rhode Island's Ag Day celebration in the spring. Additional information also is available on the RI Food Policy website.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.