By Chris Jones, SVP Government Relations and Counsel
For independent grocers across the United States, it is vital to take notice of the options available through various grants and loans offered by all levels of government, non-profit foundations and universities.
One such example are the investments being made through the USDA to facilitate in supporting smaller scale food and agriculture businesses and rural developments. This blog will help highlight some current, relevant grants that should be top of mind, with additional similar programs coming down the pipeline:
For grocers looking to invest in a beef processing facility, there is an opportunity to become involved in the Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity – Technical Assistance Program (MPPTA), which offers a network of support focused on four key areas: Federal grant application management, business development and financial planning, meat and poultry processing technical and operation support, and supply chain development.
The MPPTA network can also provide guidance on which USDA meat and poultry programs might best suit your planned beef processing facility. If you choose to differentiate in the meat aisle through this program, the USDA has made $25 million available. NGA members can request technical assistance here.
It is encouraged to go directly to the MPPTA network, but a helpful USDA contact is MPPTA Coordinator Sara Hernandez, email@example.com.
Another program is available through the Reinvestment Fund, which serves as the National Fund Manager for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative on behalf of USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service. The USDA supplemented the Healthy Food Financing Initiative with $155 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. This initiative provides resources to healthy food retail and to overcome the higher costs and initial barriers to serving areas with inequitable access. While the FY21 RFA is closed, there will be additional funding cycles of which to stay aware.
There is a recently announced grant through the Regional Food Business Centers, which will support producers by providing localized assistance to access local and regional supply chains, including linking producers to wholesalers and distributors. This may serve as a support for any grocers working to source local foods with $360 million available. The application period is currently open and applicants are looking for partners across the country.
There are opportunities through the USDA Programs in The Local Food Supply Chain, which offers grocers a chance to support robust regional food economies across the food chain.
Finally, the USDA Food System Transformation (FST) effort, which identifies more options, increases access and creates new, more and better markets for small and mid-size producers as part of the FST.
We are here to serve you and identify further ways to stay relevant and stack these opportunities to become even more competitive in the industry.
To learn more about how to become involved in these grant programs, don’t hesitate to reach out to the NGA team.