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DEM Reminds RI Farm, Food, and Seafood Businesses of Nov. 30 Deadline to Apply for $700,000 in LASA Grant Funding

RHODE ISLAND, November 25 - PROVIDENCE, RI – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds Rhode Island food, fishers, and farm businesses of November 30th deadline to apply for the nearly $700,000 in Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) programming funding to help new and existing food businesses grow and flourish. LASA is an important catalyst in strengthening the local food system. These grants support projects that help with the entry, growth, and sustainability of small or starting green sector businesses. Since its enactment 10 years ago, LASA has provided more than $1.4 million through individual program grants up to $20,000.

"DEM is always working to get more home-grown food on the table and support local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses.," said DEM Director Terry Gray. "We urge new and beginning fishers, food, and farm businesses who seek to grow and support their local and fresh, sustainable food to apply for LASA so we can continue minimizing transportation costs, reduce carbon emissions, and boost the local economy while providing the freshest product possible to the consumer."

The 2022 programming funding priorities include:

o Supporting the entry, growth, and sustainability of small or beginning agriculture producers and fishers. o Supporting agriculture producers and fishers that are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. o Supporting the development of new marketing, promotion, sales, and/or distribution channels. o Supporting the development of new products, including value-added processing capacity. o Fostering new cooperatives, partnerships, and/or collaborations among Rhode Island agriculture producers, fishers, and supporting organizations. o Fostering and building capacity for markets connecting local farms and fishers with Rhode Island's food-insecure communities. o Protecting the future availability of agricultural land for producers, including farm transition planning and implementation, and assisting with on farm food safety improvements, including the developing of Food Safety Modernization Act and hazard analysis critical control point standards.

Technical and additional one-on-one technical assistance is offered by the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC). Please visit their webinar or to request assistance, contact lasahelp@rifoodcouncil.org or by phone at 401-490-5687.

For more information on the LASA Grant program, please visit DEM's website. Applications should be completed online via the State of Rhode Island Grant's Management System by Nov. 30, 2022, at 11:59 PM. Grant-related questions should be directed to Ananda Fraser, Chief Program Development in DEM's Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment at 401-222-2781 or via email to DEM.LASA@dem.ri.gov.

During the 2021 grant program, DEM awarded $250,000 of programming funding in LASA grants to 12 recipients. Eligible entities include for-profit farmers, fishers, producer groups, and non-profit organizations. Applicants must be based in Rhode Island and only small and/or beginning farmers, or producer groups of small or beginning farmers, are eligible to apply for capital grants. Aquaculture operators are considered farmers in the LASA program.

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 DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.