The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has recently released a thirty-nine page summary of the various USDA grant programs relating to local and regional food systems. The new Guide to USDA Funding for Local and Regional Food Systems is a comprehensive, digestible and highly relevant piece that outlines the major funding programs available to farmers, nonprofits, associations, individuals, schools and others working towards successful local and regional food systems. The handy “quick guide” chart on page 4 details each program’s eligibility requirements, grant amounts and any matching funds needed. Eligibility is further explained in each program description, including helpful hints about who the programs are really targeting. When applying for a grant it can be tempting to try to fit a square peg into a round hole in terms of eligibility – this guide is a great resource to make sure you are barking up the right tree. Other features include a resource section (regional and national), a how-to-guide for the application process (Appendix 1: Preparing to Apply to USDA Grant Programs using Grants.gov) and case studies of successful applications. Contact information for each program is listed along with sources for more information.
This is not the dry, legalese grants guide of a dusty bureaucrat – this is written with the genuine goal of improving our access to good, healthy food and assisting the people and organizations working towards that goal. This guide is a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in funding a food systems project. This is NSAC’s first edition and they have done a brilliant job – we look forward to more!