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Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP)


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Mar 2, 2023


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. Supports partnerships to improve viability and resilience of the local or regional food economy.

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.

  1. 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 partners to define the scope and structure of the regional food system, share opportunities and challenges, and develop inclusive approaches to address challenges and improve connection and success across the regional food system
    • Creating and conducting feasibility studies and data-driven implementation plans
    • Conducting research on specific market, mid-tier value chain, or infrastructure investments to prioritize next steps at the local, regional, state, or tribal government level
    • 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 performance benchmarks for meeting the project goals
  2. Implementation and Expansion projects support 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:
    • Creating value chains where producers, manufacturers, buyers, and other related actors form collaborative, transparent partnerships shared operational values and social mission goals
    • Developing processes for ongoing engagement with the community and businesses
    • Analyzing capital needs and gaps and identifying resources to support the regional food system
    • Identifying resources for for food system enterprises and providing technical assistance for partners and stakeholders, and applying for programs and resources that align with regional food system efforts
  3. Farm to Institution projects support planning and facilitating supply chains, and developing relationships between local and regional producers, processors, intermediaries, and institutional markets or institutional food services operations Projects include but are not limited to:
    • Connecting food supply chain partners with food operations at institutions to increase the availability of local food products in colleges and universities, hospitals, senior meal programs, schools, afterschool and summer meal programs, public dining facilities, detention centers, prisons, and more
    • Develop business plans and strategies for establishing relationships between local and regional food producers, processors, intermediaries, and institutions
    • Support food safety certification efforts and improvements related to farm to institution and improvements to food safety practices and equipment
    • Enhance institutional local and regional food system capacity by collaborating with communities and expanding mid-tier value chains

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling:

  • $250,000 for Planning and Design projects
  • $1,000,000 for Implementation and Expansion projects
  • $1,000,000 for Farm to Institution projects
Award floor:
  • $100,000 for Planning and Design projects
  • $250,000 for Implementation and Expansion projects
  • $250,000 for Farm to Institution projects
Project period:
  • 24 months for Planning and Design projects
  • 36 months for Implementation and Expansion and Farm to Institution projects

Estimated total program funding: $56,500,000

Matching funds are required for a portion of the project. Applicants must provide a matching contribution equal to 25% of the total grant 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 application instructions.

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 an area that includes distressed low-income rural or urban communities with areas of persistent 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 on the program website.

Applicant frequently asked questions


For programmatic or technical questions:

Rural Awards

Past awards communities received in fiscal year 2023 can be found on the program website.

One rural example of funding is the NorthEast Washington Education Service District 101 located in northeastern Washington. The school service district received funding to support 22 small, rural School Food Authorities, and their partners, working to establish a RFSP to strengthen their school meal programs.

Topics This Program Addresses

Community Planning and Coalition Building • Economic Development • Health and Wellness