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

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Check out our latest newsletter, March 2024 HERE!

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Announcements

Wyoming

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

In-person

$1,059,646

$1,224,279

$1,492,615

18%

Year-around Indoor

N/A

$54,253 *Oct-Dec

$291,493 *Feb-Dec

Comparison unavailable.

Virtual

$180,143

$278,348

$449,141

39%

Total

$1,239,789

$1,556,880

$2,233,249

31%

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.

Oregon

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:  http://oda.direct/F2S. 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: https://youtu.be/qZ-_hm8wa6A

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.

Online

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.

LEARN MORE

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

Webpage

Email

Farmers Market Promotion Program

www.ams.usda.gov/fmpp

FMLFPPgrants@usda.gov

Local Food Promotion Program

www.ams.usda.gov/lfpp

FMLFPPGrants@usda.gov

Regional Food System Partnerships

www.ams.usda.gov/rfsp

IPPGrants@usda.gov

Virtual

The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN), the Good Meat Project and Kitchen Table Consultants present the Western Meat School Business Accelerator Program, a 7 month, peer-to-peer learning experience for farmers, ranchers and meat brands that are scaling their production and sales with the intent to reach multi-million dollar goals while producing high quality local and regional meat products.

This immersive online small group business accelerator is designed to help producers solve the most challenging problems when scaling their meat business. The curriculum offers high touch, comprehensive experiential classes focused on organizing financial record keeping systems that help deepen knowledge, improve profit potential and understand demand forecasting. This course also gives participants step-by-step instruction on how to “level up” marketing and branding initiatives that connect with target customers, connect marketing initiatives to sales and build a brand that resonates with diverse consumers in multiple sales channels. Another integral feature of this program is that each participant will be paired with their own business coach and marketing coach for 10 hours of one-on-one consulting.

“If you have outgrown the farmers’ market and other local sales channels and want to get into wholesale, retail, and other larger markets with your meat brand, you will not find a better space to learn from other similarly sized operations as well as industry experts on how to scale without fail.”- Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Director of NMPAN

Spaces are limited, and a maximum of 20 similarly-sized producers will be accepted to the program. We encourage a diverse pool of applications from all over the country. Deadline to apply is February 2, 2024, with classes beginning in early March. Partial scholarships are reserved for BIPOC, tribal, and socially-disadvantaged operators.

NW & Rocky Mountain Region

The Connecting and Scaling Food Entrepreneurs theme team began our grant work by providing sponsorship for four exceptional and enthusiastic food entrepreneurs who are embarking on a transformative journey by participating in the “Get Your Recipe to Market Course” (GYRM) offered by SBDC at Portland Community College. As part of our collaborative effort, our dedicated theme team has chosen to fully cover the $1995 course fee for these entrepreneurs, enabling them to engage in this comprehensive 12-week virtual program aimed at equipping them with the essential skills and knowledge to refine their products for the marketplace. For the past 17 years, the GYRM program has been a trusted resource for emerging entrepreneurs, and by providing financial assistance, we aim to help connect these talented food entrepreneurs with potential buyers and nurture their growth as business-savvy leaders.

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