Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program

Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program Request for Applications (RFA) Now Open

The Maine RFSI Infrastructure Project Grant Application opened on March 29, 2024.

A copy of the RFA, as well as the Question & Answer Summary and all amendments related to the RFA, can be obtained at the Division of Procurement Services.

Search for: RFA# 202403071

Applications must be submitted to the State of Maine Division of Procurement Services, via e-mail, at: Proposals@maine.govApplication submissions must be received no later than 11:59 p.m., local time, on April 29, 2024. Applications will be opened the following business day. Applications not submitted to the Division of Procurement Services’ aforementioned e-mail address by the aforementioned deadline will not be considered for award.


Program Overview

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA AMS) is partnering with state Departments of Agriculture to invest in food supply chain resilience, market access, and value-added processing infrastructure through the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI).

The purpose of the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI) is to build resilience across Maine’s middle of the food supply chain. Funds will support expanded capacity for the aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, and distribution of Maine-produced food products, including specialty crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, and other food products, excluding meat and poultry.

The Maine Department of Agriculture (DACF) will work in partnership with USDA to make competitive sub-award investments in middle of the supply chain infrastructure (Infrastructure Grants) to domestic food and farm businesses and other eligible entities. Projects will begin no earlier than July 1, 2024 and must be completed by May 24, 2027.


RFSI Virtual Office Hours

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) will hold four RFSI virtual office hours to provide an overview of the program, eligibility, and program priorities and to answer program questions. Once the Maine RFSI RFA opens (anticipated in mid-March), DACF will conduct one round of Questions and Answers to address general questions about the application process through the Maine Procurement Systems RFA Q&A process as listed in the upcoming RFSI RFA instructions. Questions received during office hours will also be included in the published Q&A.


Program Contact Information

For questions about Maine’s Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program (RFSI), please email michelle.t.webb@maine.gov.


Quick Facts

Maine DACF Funding: $3,967,501.80

Eligible Industry: Specialty crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, and other food products. Meat and poultry are ineligible industries/commodities. 

Eligible Applicants: 

  • Agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors, nonprofit organization, local government entities and tribal governments operating middle-of-the-supply-chain activities such as processing, aggregation, or 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, or distribution of targeted agricultural product

Types of Awards:

  • RFSI Infrastructure Project Grant Awards
    • Project awards will range from $100,000 - $250,000
    • A 50% match of the total proposed project cost is required.
    • Match exception: historically underserved producers and small disadvantaged businesses can request to reduce the required match contribution to 25%.
    • In-kind funds may be allowed as a match if they are not already used as a match for another federal grant agreement. Indirect costs may also count towards the required match contribution.
  • RFSI Equipment-Only Grant Awards
    • Equipment-only awards will range from $10,000-$100,000
    • Designed for equipment purchases (not associated with facility upgrades, staffing, or non-equipment costs).
    • The total amount awarded will equal the cost of the special middle-of-the-supply-chain equipment, up to $100,000.
    • No matching fund requirement.

Maine RFSI Priorities: RFSI Infrastructure Project grant applications must align with one or more of the following RFSI funding priorities:

  • Projects that will achieve on-farm facility infrastructure improvements (including expansion and modifications to existing buildings and/or construction of new buildings at existing facilities) to resolve middle-of-the-food-supply chain challenges.
    • The on-farm facilities to receive upgrades, repairs, or reconfigurations must be facilities that enhance middle-of-the-food-supply chain activities and not production related activities.
  • Projects that support processing and packaging improvements (including value-added processing, hiring term-limited personnel to assist with project implementation, co-packing and packaging investments, and processing, canning, and preserving as an area most in need of investment, drying, hulling, shelling, milling, cooking, baking, juicing, distilling, and fermenting).
  • Projects that support storage and distribution improvements (including cold storage, and aggregator warehouse and storage space and delivery and distribution investments).
  • Projects that directly benefit underserved or underrepresented food producers.
    • Applicants must indicate if their project will directly benefit underserved farmers and ranchers, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, veteran producers, or processors or other middle-of-the-supply chain businesses owned by socially disadvantaged individuals including Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) Producer Partners.
  • Projects that demonstrate stakeholder support.
    • Applicants will be encouraged to describe the stakeholders that support the need for their project and why (other than the applicant and organizations involved in the project). Letters of support are encouraged.
  • Projects that improve middle-of-the-supply-chain challenges within Maine’s targeted agricultural products (specialty crops, dairy, grains for human consumption, aquaculture, value-added products).

Maine RFSI Sample Application Components

Please note that Maine RFSI application period is not currently open.

These USDA RFSI grant template forms represent only a portion of Maine's RFSI grant application package. There will be additional supplemental questions and application requirements required as part of the complete Maine RFSI application process. Note: RFSI Infrastructure Project grant applications will have a different RFA application process and deadline than RFSI Equipment-only applications.

The full application package and submission instructions will be posted at Maine Division of Procurement Services Grant RFP and RFA.

USDA Instructions on Opening an Adobe Dynamic Form

States are receiving questions about the use of Adobe dynamic forms.

The USDA has shared that it is likely these errors are popping up as the document is being opened in the internet browser and not through Adobe Acrobat.

We recommend downloading the dynamic form to your computer. To do this, click on the Grant Template (PDF) link above. The document will begin to open in a new browser tab. You will likely see a “Please wait…” message. Click the Save icon to download the file to your computer. Next you will open your downloads folder (or whatever folder you saved the document), right click on the document and click “open with”. You will then select Adobe Acrobat to open the document as a PDF.

If there is a yellow bar that appears at the top of the dynamic form after opening, you may have to click the “Enable Content” button in order to edit the document.

The State of Maryland created a video demonstrating how to download and open dynamic files to Adobe Reader.


Maine RFSI Anticipated Timeline

Estimated Months Tasks
July 2023 Maine DACF hosts agriculture industry stakeholder feedback meetings and survey to identify program priorities.
August 2023 Maine DACF submits Maine RFSI State Plan to USDA AMS conveying the priorities established by stakeholder feedback and proposing the plan to facilitate both RFSI Project and RFSI Equipment-Only grant opportunities.
December 2023 - January 2024 Maine DACF receives guidance from USDA AMS after State Plan review, and authorization to spend USDA RFSI funds and prepare to launch RFSI grant programing.
January - February 2024 Maine DACF posts employment opportunity and posts a a RFSI Planning and Research Associate employment position opening.

Maine DACF releases RFSI webpage to share information with middle-of-the-supply-chain eligible producers, processors, organizations, institutions, and entities.
March 2024 Maine DACF releases Request for Applications (RFA) for RFSI Infrastructure Project grant opportunities.
April - May 2024 Maine DACF facilitates a review panel to score and recommend RFSI project awards and equipment-only awards.
May 2024 Maine DACF sends project selection portfolio for Commissioner Review followed by USDA AMS review.
June 2024 Maine DACF awards infrastructure project sub-award contracts (tentative performance period starting September 1, 2024) following Commissioner and USDA AMS approval.
October 2024 Maine DACF releases Request for Applications (RFA) for RFSI Equipment-only grant opportunities.
July 2024-Spring 2027 Maine DACF coordinates ongoing communication, monitoring, data collection, and engagement with subrecipients and stakeholders. Subrecipients must complete project deliverables according to contractual agreements. Subrecipients must comply with required USDA and Maine DACF reporting requirements.
June 2027 Maine DACF submits the final RFSI performance report to USDA AMS.

How RFSI Supports Maine DACF Priorities

In 2020, Maine made a commitment through its climate action plan to ensure 30% of the food consumed in Maine is produced in Maine by 2030. Our state also has a specific charge to increase institutional purchasing of Maine grown food. RFSI subawards will provide a substantial investment into Maine’s middle-of-the-food-supply systems and thus move the needle on our local food consumption goals.

In addition, Maine is part of the New England Food System Planners Partnership (NEFSPP), a regionwide partnership effort to ensure that 30% of the food consumed in New England is regionally produced by 2030. The RFSI program administration offers an opportunity to continue the regional collaboration with other New England state departments of agriculture to maximize regional supply chain benefits across the region.

Maine’s RFSI priorities are reflective of these important overarching goals, partnerships, and interconnections between Maine’s food supply chain and state and regional values, needs, and objectives.