What is RFSI?
The purpose of the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI) program is to develop and administer state coordinated initiatives to build resilience across the middle of the State’s food supply chain for food crops. Funds will support expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry. The State Department of Agriculture will work in partnership with USDA to make competitive subaward investments in middle of the supply chain infrastructure (Infrastructure Grants) to domestic food and farm businesses and other eligible entities.
Who can I contact for questions related to the RFSI program and/or to be placed on the information distribution list?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I find information from the USDA?
To find RFSI Scope and Requirements, as well as the AMS Terms and Conditions, please visit ams.usda.gov/rfsi.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors
- Nonprofit organizations operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products
- Local government entities operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products
- Tribal governments operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural products.
- Institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals bringing producers together to establish cooperative or shared infrastructure or invest in equipment that will benefit multiple producers middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, distribution of targeted agricultural product.
What is an example of an infrastructure project?
- Expand capacity for processing, aggregation and distribution of agricultural products to create more and better markets for producers;
- Modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems;
- Enhance worker safety through adoption of new technologies or investment in equipment or facility improvements;
- Improve the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements;
- Improve operations through training opportunities;
- Support construction of a new facility;
- Modernize or expand an existing facility (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/or construction of new buildings at existing facilities);
- Construction of wastewater management structures, etc.;
- Modernize processing and manufacturing equipment; and
- Develop, customize, or install equipment that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, increases efficiency in water use, improves air and/or water quality, and/or meets one or more of USDA’s climate action goals.
When will RFSI applications become available?
Upon approval of our state plan by USDA AMS. No applications for South Carolina’s RFSI funds will be accepted until a later date; the open application period will be announced and posted on SCDA’s website as well as through its social media channels.
What is the definition of middle-of-the-supply-chain?
The food supply chain involves the following stages: 1. Production, 2. Processing, 3. Aggregation/Distribution, and 4. Markets/Consumers.
For the purposes of RFSI, “middle-of-the-supply-chain” refers to the middle stages: 2. Processing and 3. Aggregation/Distribution.
What is the definition of an infrastructure grant?
An Infrastructure Grant is a subaward that will fund projects to expand capacity and infrastructure for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, or distribution of targeted agricultural products.
What is the minimum and maximum grant awards for the infrastructure grant program?
Minimum of $100,000 and maximum of $3,000,000.
Can infrastructure grant recipient funds be used to make subawards, e.g. mini grants, below the $100,000 minimum award amount?
It is unallowable for Infrastructure Grant recipients to issue subawards.
If needed, USDA’s Regional Food Business Centers offer Business Builder Grants in amounts up to $100,000.
Are for profit entities, such as food hubs or distribution companies, eligible for infrastructure grant funds?
For-profit entities operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, or distribution of targeted agricultural products, whose activities are primarily focused for the benefit of local and regional producers, and that meet the eligibility requirements of the SBA small business size standards are eligible.
For-profit entities must meet the eligibility requirements of the SBA small business size standards matched to industries described in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For more information on these size standards, please visit SBA’s Size Standards webpage. For a quick check on whether your business qualifies, please use the Size Standards Tool.
Can funds be used for farm production related activities?
No, funds cannot be use for agricultural production activities/costs including farm equipment, tools, supplies, gardening, or production related labor/training.
Can funds be used for construction?
RFSI funds may be used for improvements, rearrangements, or alterations of an existing building or facility to use a space more effectively and to accommodate new or upgraded equipment and processes.
Funds may also be used for new construction of buildings or structural changes to an existing building/ facility resulting in a square foot expansion or requiring changes to the building’s floor, foundation, and exterior or load bearing walls.
Can I use funds to purchase land or buildings?
No. It is unallowable to use grant funds for the acquisition of buildings, facilities, or land.
Can funds be used to purchase vehicles?
Special purpose vehicles relevant to the scope of work on an Infrastructure Grant project, such as delivery vehicles or refrigerated trucks, are allowable. However, the purchase of a general use vehicles is not allowable.
Can funds be used to repair and/or upgrade existing equipment?
Yes. Funds may be used to repair or update existing equipment.
What retail related activities are eligible for funding?
Eligible retail related activities can include creating distribution channels to new retail opportunities, or expanding processing and packaging capacities, including adding product types, increasing production volumes, and supporting new retail product lines.
SIMPLIFIED EQUIPMENT GRANT
Is there a grant solely for equipment?
Yes. These projects offer a simplified application to fund smaller grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases. The Simplified Equipment-Only option is a Fixed Price Grant, meaning it will fund only equipment purchases (and not associated facility upgrades, staffing, or other costs), and the amount awarded will be equal to the cost of the equipment up to $100,000. No match is required for this grant type.
ELIGIBLE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS AND ACTIVITIES
Can a food hub that has sales to individual consumers be considered eligible for an infrastructure grant?
Yes, they are eligible. If the entity is aggregating, processing, and/or distributing products from local and regional farms, then they are conducting middle-of-the-supply-chain activities.
Are wineries/distilleries/breweries eligible entities for infrastructure grants?
Yes, if the activities are primarily focused on the middle-of-the-supply-chain and will increase market opportunities for local and regional producers.
Is shrimp an eligible agricultural product? For example, the shrimp are grown in containers and not “wild caught”.
Projects that expand capacity for the middle of the supply chain of aquaculture products are eligible for funding. USDA defines aquaculture as the production of aquatic organisms under controlled conditions throughout part or all their lifecycle. Wild-caught seafood is an ineligible product.
Are meat and poultry eligible agricultural products under RFSI?
No. Meat and poultry products are not eligible under RFSI.
GENERAL PROGRAM INFORMATION
What is cost sharing or matching?
Cost sharing or matching is the portion of project costs not paid by the Federal funds, which could be cash and/or in-kind contributions. Cash can be a financial outlay, or cash donations from non-Federal third parties. In-kind can be the value of non-cash contributions typically in the form of value of personnel, goods, and services, including direct and indirect costs. Other Federal funds cannot be used as match. (See 2 CFR §§ 200.1 and 200.306.)
Can an applicant apply for both an infrastructure grant and an equipment-only grant?
No, applicants can only apply for either an Infrastructure Grant or an Equipment-Only Grant but cannot apply for both.
Does the RFSI program require cost sharing or matching?
Yes, Infrastructure Grant Recipients require a match. The program requires cost sharing or matching of 50% of the project cost as a match to federal funding. For underserved farmers and ranchers, a reduced match contribution is required at 25% of the project costs.
How should an applicant document if they qualify for reduced match?
Qualifying applicants for the Infrastructure Grant projects will self-certify their eligibility for the 25% reduced match to 25%. For historically underserved farmers and ranchers, or for other businesses that qualify under SBA categories of Small disadvantaged business, women-owned small business, or veteran-owned small business, the required match funding Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Grant (RFSI) contribution or cost share is reduced to 25% of the project cost. States must require that applicants self-certify in their RFSI Infrastructure Grant Proposal Template applications that they are eligible for this reduced match.
Can donated labor/personnel time count as in-kind match?
Labor/personnel time may be used as a match for the percentage of time the person is working on the project. For example, if someone is only spending 15% of their time working on the project, then you can only bring that 15% to the project as a match. Also, you must ensure that what you would normally pay that individual is reasonable according to standard personnel rates for similar positions in your geographic locality.
Can unrecovered indirect cost be used as part of the cost sharing or matching?
Yes, it is allowable to use unrecovered indirect costs as part of cost sharing or matching. Unrecovered indirect cost means the difference between the amount charged to the Federal award and the amount that could have been charged to the Federal award under the potential recipients approved negotiated indirect cost rate.
Can donated rental space or land be considered in-kind match? For example, a city donates land to an applicant to build a processing/aggregation cold storage facility.
Yes and No. Acquired real property, including land, is an unallowable cost and therefore cannot be used to meet the match requirement.
Rental costs are an allowable cost and may be used to meet match requirements.
If infrastructure grant applications include construction, will the projects need to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)?
Yes, any application that may have ground disturbing activities needs to comply with NEPA, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and other state, local and tribal laws.
Do infrastructure grant applicants/grantees need a Unique Entity Id (UEIi) in SAM.gov?
Yes, Subawardees are required to obtain a UEI in SAM.gov prior to being issued a subaward.
Do infrastructure grant applicants have to pay to obtain a UEI in SAM.gov?
No, there is NO cost to register in SAM.gov. If you receive notification on having to pay to renew your account beware that it is likely a SCAM and should be reported to the appropriated authorities.