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Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program

The purpose of the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) program is to build resilience in the middle of the food supply chain, to provide more and better markets to small farms and food businesses, to support the development of value-added products for consumers, fair prices, fair wages, and new and safe job opportunities. 

The RFSI purpose is expanding middle of the food supply chain capacity for locally and regionally produced foods, to offer better market opportunities and new streams of revenue to small and mid-sized agricultural producers (including those who may not have access to value-added opportunities or processing to meet market demand for premium or value-added products, such as underserved producers).

RFSI projects should expand the capacity and market opportunities for local and regional producers in the middle of the food 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.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will award funds to support projects that:

  1. Enhance and establish capacities for processing, storage, aggregation, and distribution to scale up local food in Illinois; 
  2.  Develop and enhance capacity for value-added products and cottage food entrepreneurship to meet demand for new markets and consumers;
  3. Strengthen and develop organizational capacity to increase social networks and collaboration among farmers and local food supply chain actors to achieve operational efficiency and expand new market opportunities.
  4. Enhance and establish on-farm sustainable/renewable energy systems for processing, storing, and value-add products while reducing food waste and ensuring food safety;
  5. Historically underserved populations will be a funding priority in alignment with the goals of the RFSI program. (see below for definition of historically underserved populations)   

Activities that support these priorities may include:

  • Expand processing capacities and facilities, including adding product types, increasing production volumes, and supporting new wholesale/retail product lines;
  • Modernize equipment or facilities through upgrades, repairs, or retooling; (e.g., adapting product lines for institutional procurement or adding parallel processing capacity);
  • Purchase and install specialized equipment, such as processing components, sorting equipment, packing and labeling equipment, or delivery vehicles;
  • Increase storage space, including cold storage through purchase of energy efficient refrigerators and freezers;
  • Increase packaging and labeling capacities that meet compliance requirements under applicable laws (e.g. sealing, bagging, boxing, labeling, conveying, and product moving equipment);
  • On-farm post-harvest processing;
  • Supporting aggregator warehouse and storage, including cooperatives;
  • Acquire energy efficient/sustainable equipment and systems to address concerns raised about the high cost of electricity, particularly in some areas around the state.

Ineligible products include: meat and poultry, wild-caught seafood, exclusively animal feed and forage products, fiber, landscaping products, tobacco, or dietary supplements.

Those eligible to apply will be:

  • 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 
  • 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. *  
  • 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.

*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.

Historically Underserved Definition:

Socially disadvantaged growers/producers that fall within one of these categories are eligible to participate:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • Black / African American
  • Latine/o/a
  • Refugee
  • LGBTQ+
  • Veteran
  • Female business owner
  • Greater than 50 miles (or 30 minutes) to nearest distribution point (farmers market or market opportunity)
  • Qualify for benefits based on income (low socioeconomic status)
  • Person with disabilities
  • New farmer/rancher (USDA definition is under 10 years)
  • Business is located in one of the following high-vulnerability counties (as determined by the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index): Champaign, Coles, Cook, Douglas, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Knox, Lake, Lawrence, Macon, Marion, Massac, Morgan, Peoria, Perry, Pulaski, Rock Island, Saline, St. Clair, Stephenson, Union, Vermilion, Warren, Wayne, Winnebago

Applicants will be required to self-certify in their applications.   

RFSI Grant Types and Funding Amounts:

  • Illinois Food Systems Infrastructure Grant 
    • The minimum award amount is $100,000 and maximum award amount is $3,000,000 per project proposal.
    • Infrastructure Grants are required to match 50% of the total proposed project cost. 
      • 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 contribution or cost share is reduced to 25% of the project cost. 
  • Simplified Equipment-Only Grant
    • These will have a simplified application to fund smaller grants between $10,000 and $100,000 for equipment purchases only. 
    • There is no match requirement for Equipment-Only Grants.
    • Indirect Costs are inapplicable. 

The Request for Applications has been posted as of January 22, 2024. The application period is open until March 15, 2024 @ 11:59 pm.  Please click here for the RFSI application submission details. 

Program Contact Information

RFSI Grant Administrator
Illinois Department of Agriculture   
801 E. Sangamon Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702

E-mail: agr.rfsi@illinois.gov 

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