PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that more than $160,000 in funding under the Local Agriculture & Seafood Act (LASA) grant program is available for projects that support the growth, development, and marketing of local food and seafood in Rhode Island. The LASA program provides grants that directly benefit and strengthen the state's local food system by helping new and existing small businesses and food initiatives take root and prosper in Rhode Island.
"LASA continues to be an important catalyst in growing a wide range of food and agricultural businesses across our state, and we encourage farmers, fishers and food businesses to apply for these grants to help start or expand their operations in Rhode Island," said DEM Director Janet Coit.
LASA is funded by the State. Priorities for the 2021 grant cycle include projects that support the entry, growth and sustainability of small or beginning agriculture/aquaculture producers and fishers; supporting farmers and fishers that are Black, Indigenous and People of Color; fostering new cooperatives, partnerships and collaborations among Rhode Island producers and producer-supporting organizations; supporting capacity building for new products or new sales channels and assisting farmers and fishers adapt to new methods of selling to customers; diversifying market channels and developing more farm processing capacity; protecting the future availability of agricultural land for producers, including farm transition planning and implementation; assisting with farm food safety improvements including the development of hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) plans, food safety plans, and compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA); and fostering and building capacity for markets that connect local farms and fishers with Rhode Island's food insecure communities.
DEM anticipates that approximately $160,000 - $240,000 will be awarded under this grant round with no direct match required. During the most recent funding cycle DEM awarded $95,949 in LASA grants to 12 Rhode Island-based groups to support the local food system.
Applicants must be based in the State of Rhode Island. Eligible entities include for-profit farmers, fishermen/women, producer groups, and non-profit organizations however only small and/or beginning farmers, or producer groups of small or beginning farmers, and aquaculture operators are eligible to apply for capital grants.
Applications should be completed and submitted online at www.dem.ri.gov/lasa by May 30, 2021. Grant-related questions should be directed to Ananda Fraser, Chief Program Development in DEM's Division of Agriculture at 222-2781, ext. 72411 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the LASA grant program, visit DEM's website.
DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island's green economy and to assist 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.