PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today is announcing the availability of $35,000 in Produce Safety Improvement Grant funding for projects that help farmers and food producers implement food safety practices and comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The funds are from the State of Rhode Island and US Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The deadline for applications is Friday, January 15, 2021.
"This competitive grant program will help Rhode Island produce growers comply with the Produce Safety Rule and meet consumer demand for safe, locally-grown produce," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "DEM is working to make the compliance requirements as least burdensome to local farmers as possible, and we encourage farmers to apply for this funding opportunity."
Grant awards will range from $2,000 to $5,000. Applicants must provide a 25% match of funds under this grant program. Funds may be used to partly defray the costs of implementing on-farm food safety practices that help their operation comply with the PSR. Signed into law in 2011, the PSR establishes national science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. It applies to farms and others that grow, harvest, pack, or hold produce generally eaten raw such as greens, melons, tomatoes, and apples.
Eligible entities include Rhode Island farms enrolled in the RI Produce Safety Program that are engaged in production agriculture for commercial purposes that grow, harvest, pack, or hold "covered produce" as defined by FSMA's PSR with annual produce sales averaged over the past three years of greater than $28,075. Projects will be funded for up to one year. For more information on the Produce Safety Improvement Fund program, visit www.dem.ri.gov/producesafetyfund. For assistance in determining whether a farm is covered by the FSMA PSR or for grant-related questions, contact the Rhode Island Produce Program at Ananda.Fraser@dem.ri.gov or 401-222-2781.
DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen the green economy and to help local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. 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.
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.