The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Food Hub Grant Program. Grants are intended to stimulate purchases of locally grown and raised foods by developing or expanding food hubs and other alternative community-based food distribution systems. The MDA will only offer Food Hub Grants once.
“There’s a lot of interest in using food hubs as a way to help aggregate and distribute locally produced foods,” said Paul Hugunin, Interim Director of the MDA’s Agricultural Marketing and Development Division. “In the last few years, Minnesota has seen lots of innovative, community-based approaches that are working toward offering more locally produced foods to consumers, and providing additional market opportunities to farmers. This grant program will provide much needed financial assistance to help further these efforts.”
A 2016 report on food hubs commissioned by the MDA indicated that Minnesota is home to approximately 15 food hubs of varying size and business structure, and that nationwide there are at least 300 food hubs engaged in some form of local food aggregation and distribution. Like elsewhere, most Minnesota-based food hubs are in the early startup phase, often sponsored or supported by nonprofit organizations. Food hubs vary in scale, stage of development, definition of “local,” seasonal versus year-round operation, market channels, and more.
For-profit and not-for-profit food hubs and other alternative community-based food distribution businesses may apply for grants to develop or update their business plans, conduct feasibility studies, or create marketing plans. Grants are also available for equipment purchases or physical improvements to allow more purchasing, processing, and distributing of Minnesota grown and raised foods.
Proposals for this one-time grant must be submitted by April 19, 2017. To learn more and to apply online, visit http://www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/grants/agrifoodhub.aspx.
Alauna Yust, MDA Communications