Grants being offered to improve food production

The state will award $700,000 to help new and existing food businesses grow and flourish through the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will accept applications through November.

“Growing local and eating local, fresh, sustainable food minimizes transportation costs, reduces carbon emissions and boosts the local economy while providing the freshest product possible to the consumer,” said the agency’s director, Terry Gray.

Enacted in 2012 to “support and develop more robust and self-sustaining agricultural and seafood sectors,” the act is an important catalyst in strengthening the local food system. The program has provided more than $2 million through grants of up to $20,000 since its enactment, including the Jamestown Oyster Company in 2014.

Jamestown resident Deb Ruggiero was instrumental in creating the program by sponsoring the legislation when she served in the Rhode Island House.

The priorities for 2023 include supporting the entry, growth and sustainability of small agricultural producers and fishers. Developing marketing campaigns, improving distribution channels, fostering new cooperatives and connecting farms with hungry communities also will be prioritized.