Connecting, Strengthening and Scaling Food Supply Chains in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Region


As part of the network of USDA Regional Food Business Centers, the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center supports a more resilient, diverse, and competitive food system.  This Center is designed to be a node for our region’s small and mid-tier food and farm businesses and local and regional food sector development initiatives by supporting cross-regional collaboration, providing and analyzing relevant and timely data, and serving as a gateway for USDA programs and other third-party funding opportunities, with a focus on underserved farmers, ranchers, and food businesses.

Learn more about our high-priority areas!

Latest From the Center

A Message from the Center: Greetings from Oregon!

Greetings from Oregon! I’m glad to welcome you to this month’s NWRM RFBC newsletter, as the regional co-lead for the Center. I’m writing to you from the mid-Willamette Valley, where we are enjoying a few more warm and dry days before heading back into wet and chilly. I can only imagine how busy farmers in our area are right now, as we slide into spring.

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A Message from the Center: USDA Regional Food Business Centers Take Shape

In 2023, the USDA Ag Marketing Service (AMS) expanded funding for Regional Food Business Centers (RFBCs) with a goal to coordinate, deliver and provide investments to farm, ranch and food enterprises throughout the U.S., with a focus on underinvested stakeholders. These Centers are one key piece of a broader Food System Transformation framework introduced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that included several food policy developments related to improving the resilience, functionality, and sustainability of agricultural supply chains. Vilsack shared this framework with Center leadership at a November 2023 meeting in Denver, Colorado.

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The Center’s leadership team, our six state teams of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming, our multi-state partners, high-priority theme areas, and a cohort of food sector leaders from underserved audiences help to frame and engage a diverse set of farm and food businesses throughout our region.



The 2022 State of the Local Food Economy report was the inaugural effort to quantify the value of local foods sold through third-party managed, direct-to-consumer farmers’ markets within the service area – Fremont, Hot Springs and Teton counties, which include the Wind River Reservation – of Central Wyoming College (CWC). This 2023 report builds on that information to provide comparisons in three unique farmers’ market sales channels. These farmers’ markets, in addition to weekly seasonal in-person markets, include two virtual markets for online ordering of local foods and a year-around indoor farmers’ market, which increases the convenience and accessibility of local foods for our communities. Three years of direct-to-consumer farmers’ market sales data shows solid local food economy growth through more sales and more customers across multiple types of market channels – in-person, year-around indoor and virtual. Since 2021, direct-to-consumer farmers’ market sales have increased by 45% ($993,460) in the 2-year period of 2022-2023.

Farmers’ Markets

2021 Sales

2022 Sales

2023 Sales

% Change






Year-around Indoor


$54,253 *Oct-Dec

$291,493 *Feb-Dec

Comparison unavailable.











WRASAP is offering funding opportunities to partners, collaborators, and stakeholders. Proposals for funds should address causes and solutions for agricultural stress in the Western region. WRASAP is offering two opportunities to apply for mini grants in 2024. Application deadlines are April 30, 2024 and July 31, 2024.

Apply for up to $5,000 to educate yourself/your organization or reduce agriculture-related stress and/or prevent agricultural suicides in your state/territory. Funding is available in the following three categories: Translation, Outreach, and Professional Development.

Proposals submitted May 1st – June 30th will be identified as Quarter 2. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by July 31.


The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is pleased to announce a new grant opportunity to help Oregon producers and processors access the school marketplace. Application materials are now available at ODA’s Farm to School webpage: The deadline to apply is April 10, 2024, by 5:00pm.

While the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is responsible for allocating most of the Farm to School funds in Oregon, ODA oversees $500,000 for the 2023-2025 biennium in equipment and infrastructure grants for producers who intend to expand sales or start selling to schools and other eligible entities described below.

The goal of this competitive grant program is to provide financial resources for Oregon farmers, ranchers, seafood harvesters, fishermen, and processors with specific equipment and infrastructure needs, and who intend to sell food produced (grown, harvested, gathered, raised, caught or processed) in Oregon to any of the following ODE Child Nutrition Program (CNP) food sponsors and Tribal entities:

  • A school district participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP);
  • A provider of center-based programs for children in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
  • An entity that provides meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP); and
  • Tribal schools, Tribal Early Learning/Childhood Education sites, and other Tribal youth meal programs.

Grant Informational Webinar:

Bozeman, MT

Are you interested in advancing market opportunities, building connections, and supporting collective skills-development and learning across the Mountain West’s meat supply chain?

Registration is open for the Mountain Meat Summit, a local/regional meat supply chain conference held in Bozeman, Montana, May 22nd and 23rd 2024.

The Summit is geared toward individuals and businesses that engage with meat supply chains in the Mountain West including farmers, ranchers, processors, wholesale buyers, chefs, grocers, educators, and consultants.

The Summit will provide peer-to-peer advice and networking, educational sessions by meat supply chain business people and industry experts, and “quick-consulting” stations with public and private consultants.

Day 1, May 22: Educational day tours, and the Reiser Opening Afternoon Reception

Day 2, May 23: Educational sessions/presentations, and late afternoon reception with sponsor reps, quick-consulting stations, and local RTE meat tasting!

Cost: $100 for all onsite receptions, programs, and sessions; $25 add-on for a tour (new reduced tour price!).

Founding Sponsors: USDA National and Western SARE, USDA AMS, and Farm Credit

Presenting Sponsors: Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center, Montana State University Extension, Colorado State University Extension, Reiser, Western Sustainability Exchange, Barney Creek Livestock, Grapevine Local Food Marketing, and CliftonLarsonAllen, LLC, and more to come…

Supporting Sponsors: Montana Beef Council, Old Salt Festival, Montana Pork Producers Council, and more to come…

virtual- link to recorded session below

Class description:
Everyone loves a good story! Storytelling is how we learn, communicate and understand our world. The story arc of the Hero’s Journey is a proven method to connect customers to your business. Melissa Hemken, Central Wyoming College’s Community Food System Specialist, walks you through how you can base your marketing and branding on the art of storytelling. Melissa is proprietor of Melissahof Hatchery in Lander, Wyo. and has years of storytelling experience from 6,000-word longform magazine features to 60-second radio news stories. She now enjoys telling the story of Melissahof via social media, website, e-newsletter and brand positioning.


When: Wednesday, March 27, 2024, 01:00 PM – 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced $5 million in competitive grant funding for the Regional Food System Partnerships Program (RFSP) to explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products, and to encourage resilience and development of local or regional food systems. For more information, please visit the RFSP application webpage.

Business Builder grants will launch in late spring 2024 and run until 2027.

The Business Builder Grants Program is a brand-new, regionally-managed funding program designed to support farm and food businesses to strengthen the viability of their businesses and overcome barriers to market access and expansion.

In the Northwest & Rocky Mountain region, Business Builder grants will be integrated with technical assistance offered across the region in collaboration with our four thematic focus areas. Please reach out to your state contact to learn about technical assistance opportunities.


USDA Announces Grant Funding and New Resources Available for Local and Regional Food Systems Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of approximately $26 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) to help local and regional food entities develop, coordinate, and expand producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets, and local food enterprises. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is accepting applications for the grant program until May 14, 2024. Additionally, AMS has added to the suite of resources available to support communities and practitioners in local and regional food systems development.

For more information about grant eligibility and previously funded projects, visit the below webpages or use the contact information.

Funding Opportunity



Farmers Market Promotion Program

Local Food Promotion Program

Regional Food System Partnerships


The Mountain Meat Summit

AC Hotel Bozeman Downtown 110 N Tracy Ave, Bozeman, MT, United States

Join us in Bozeman Montana at the AC Hotel Bozeman Downtown by Marriott in advancing market opportunities, building connections, and supporting collective skills development and learning across many segments and scales of […]

Lunch and Learn: Coolbots and Cold Storage

Virtual , United States

We talk with Patty Parsons of Store it Cold about food safe cold storage solutions for small-scale producers. Register here via Zoom:

Introduction to Carbon Credits

Virtual , United States

Please join us Thursday, May 23rd to learn about Carbon Credits on Agriculture Operations in Wyoming from Nicki Nimlos. Nicki Nimlos is a PhD student in the College of Agriculture, […]


CSU Spur 4777 National Western Drive, Denver, CO, United States

Presented by the Ag Innovation Center, this event is an opportunity to: Learn about the offal problem and how you can play a part in the offal solution, how to […]


Summer Bazaar at OSU FIC

Oregon State Food Innovation Center 1207 NW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR, United States

Please join us to sample some of the newest food and beverage products launching in the region and meet the founders who created them.

The Fancy Food Show

    Javits Center 429 11th Ave, New York, NY, United States

    There's nowhere quite like the Summer Fancy Food Show, which in 2023 sold out of booth space and welcomed 30,000 specialty food and beverage industry professionals from all walks of […]

    Colorado Food Collision

    CSU Spur 4777 National Western Drive, Denver, CO, United States

    Join us for an exciting and delicious event as we bring together food entrepreneurs champions from across the beautiful state of Colorado. This pitch event is a unique opportunity for […]

    Shared Kitchen Summit

      The Conference Center on 11 601 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA, United States

      Welcome to the Shared Kitchen Summit, hosted by The Food Corridor. This isn’t just an event; it’s the premier gathering spot where the heart of the shared kitchen community beats the […]



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