New AMS grants could benefit egg industry

November 30, 2023

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has made up to $420 million available to state agriculture departments under the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program. Through cooperative agreements with states, AMS will provide funds to “maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency,” according to the agency – a process that could benefit egg farms, poultry associations or academic centers. After a state agency reaches an initial agreement with USDA, the agency will submit a state plan and then award competitive grants called Infrastructure Subgrants. Eligible entities for these grants include, among others, “agricultural producers or processors, or groups of agricultural producers and processors,” as well as “institutions such as schools, universities, or hospitals…”

UEP has met with AMS officials to get more information on the program. State agencies have secured their funding and are expected to announce application periods in the very near future (some have already done so). These announcements will come from state agriculture departments, and AMS may make simultaneous announcements. Producers or associations that think they might have an idea that deserves grant funding may want to proactively contact people they know at their state agriculture departments to learn more. Details about the application process will also be available once state agencies make their formal announcements.

One major supply-chain-related responsibility that will fall on all egg farms is compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s food traceability rule. UEP staff note that at least two eligible activities under the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure Program would be compatible with assistance to comply with the FDA rule. These are –

  • “Modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems” and
  • “Improve the capacity of entities to comply with federal, state, and local food safety requirements.

Multiple other types of projects could qualify for grants, including “wastewater management structures” and modernizing “processing and manufacturing equipment.” A complete list of eligible activities is on page 6 of this document.

In UEP’s view, grants could be made to develop model traceability compliance plans that would be available to all producers in a state (state agencies themselves could also conceivably develop plans directly, or to fund projects designed by individual producers to assure compliance throughout their supply chains (e.g., with off-site or contract farms). However, this will depend on the details of each state’s plan for using the AMS funds. Getting funds will be competitive, and no one is guaranteed to receive a grant. A fact sheet on the program can be found here, and a more detailed document with the program’s scope and requirements is here.