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Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP)


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Jul 6, 2021

Sponsoring Organization

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)


Awards grant funds to develop partnerships connecting public and private resources for the purpose of planning and developing local and regional food systems. Seeks to reduce or eliminate technical and administrative barriers, allowing producers, businesses, and other stakeholders to build viable and resilient local and regional food economies. Supports COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts to strengthen regional food systems.

Program responsibilities include:

  • Determining the size and scope of the local or regional food system for the project
  • Coordinating with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and providing technical assistance
  • Conducting outreach and education for potential partners and program participants

Grants are awarded for one of two project types.

  • Planning and design projects engage partnerships in early stage planning activities to develop local and regional food systems. Planning efforts involve determining project goals, outreach, objectives, and eligible activities, with an emphasis on identifying public and private collaborators with diverse non-federal financial and technical resources. Project activities include but are not limited to:
    • Convening established and potential partners to define the scope and structure of the food system, share opportunities and challenges, and develop an inclusive approach for the project
    • Creating and conducting feasibility studies, implementation plans, assessments, and analysis of capital needs
    • Conducting research on investment in specific markets, mid-tier value chains, and infrastructure and doing policy analysis related to various relevant governmental entities
    • Connecting food value chains with partners/funders to improve the regional food system
    • Measuring and evaluating the partnership's early development work and using results to establish time-defined benchmarks for meeting the project goals
  • Implementation and expansion projects allow partnerships that have completed the planning stage activities to build on prior or ongoing improvement efforts within a local or regional food system. Project goals and activities should align with previous work, engage with other committed entities, and maintain a diverse public-private network. Projects include but are not limited to:
    • Prioritizing strategies to address food system gaps and stakeholder needs and facilitate market opportunities and food access solutions
    • Institutionalizing processes for ongoing engagement with the community and businesses
    • Conducting research on investment in specific markets, mid-tier value chains, and infrastructure and doing policy analysis related to various relevant governmental entities
    • Supporting efforts to analyze capital needs and gaps within the food system
    • Connecting partners to meet transportation needs for bringing local agricultural products to market, including those impacted by COVID-19
    • Creating innovative value chains with shared operational values and social mission goals, including value chains responsive to the impacts of COVID-19 on the food system
    • Increasing awareness of regulations and market channel requirements that may impede access and providing assistance in navigating such systems
    • Identifying resources and providing technical assistance for fiscal sponsorship, completing applications, and other activities that support project goals
    • Evaluating the partnership expansion work and establishing time-defined performance measures

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling:

  • $250,000 for planning and design projects
  • $1,000,000 for implementation and expansion projects
Award floor:
  • $100,000 for planning and design projects
  • $250,000 for implementation and expansion projects
Project period:
  • 24 months for planning and design projects
  • 36 months for implementation and expansion projects

Estimated number of awards: 50
Estimated total program funding: $15,300,000

Matching funds are required for a portion of the project. Applicants must provide a matching contribution equal to 10% or 25% of the total grant award amount based on the funding source of the award. The match amount provided by the applicant will determine the funding source for the award. Matching funds can be cash and/or in-kind contributions and must be from non-federal sources. Additional information regarding matching funds requirements and funding sources for this opportunity can be found in the funding announcement.

Who Can Apply

Applicants must be domestic entities owned, operated, and located within the U.S. or territories. Applications may be submitted by either an eligible entity or an eligible partner on behalf of the partnership.

Eligible entities include:

  • Agricultural producers
  • Farmer or rancher cooperatives
  • Producer networks or associations
  • Majority-controlled producer-based business ventures
  • Food councils
  • Community supported agriculture (CSA) networks or associations
  • Local governments
  • Nonprofit corporations
  • Public benefit corporations
  • Economic development corporations
  • Regional farmers market authorities
  • Tribal governments

Eligible partners include:

  • State agencies or regional authorities
  • Philanthropic corporations
  • Private corporations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Commercial, federal, or farm credit system lending institutions

Priority consideration is given to projects that meet one of the following criteria:

  • Leverage significant non-federal financial and technical resources and coordinate with other local, state, tribal, or national efforts
  • Cover a region that includes areas of concentrated poverty that provide significant opportunities for high impact investment
  • Have multiple entities and project partners, which can be based within or outside of the defined partnership region

Partnerships that include Limited Resource Entities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Geographic Coverage


What This Program Funds

Capacity Building

Application Process

Application instructions, requirements, and other information can be found in the funding announcement.

Applicant frequently asked questions

Applicant webinar recording
Passcode: 5RS^qE07


For programmatic or technical questions:

Rural Awards

Examples of past awards communities received in fiscal year (FY) 2020 are described on the program website.

One rural community who received funding is Tiny Seed Project, Inc. in East Hardwick, Vermont. The project used funds to help revive a regional grain system through a networking hub that provides farms and grain-based businesses with increased communication, a consumer education campaign, assistance identifying stakeholder needs, and a regional grain system framework.

Topics This Program Addresses

Community Planning and Coalition Building • COVID-19 Response • Economic Development • Health and Wellness