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Applications Accepted for Round II of Jefferson County Food Resiliency Grant Program


Watertown, NY. Jefferson County Economic Development (JCED) and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County (CCE) have announced applications are being accepted for Round II of the Jefferson County Food Resiliency Grant Program.  The deadline to submit applications is Friday December 1, 2023.  Farms and food businesses may obtain more information or apply by going to You may call Jay Matteson with JCED at 315-782-5865 extension 232 or Mike Nuckols with CCE at 315-788-8450.   Funding for the program is possible through a grant from Jefferson County.

The purpose of the grant program is to increase local food production from local farms and food and beverage processors.  During 2020 and the worst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, vulnerabilities within our local food system were exposed. Food shortages, weaknesses in food distribution, and the lack of local food processing facilities created situations where concern over the lack of food for people to eat, became evident.  To mitigate the possibility of food shortages in the future, stimulate the local economy, and foster growth in agriculture, JCED and CCE worked with Jefferson County to obtain a grant from American Recovery Act funds to create a small grant program. In Round I of the grant program, twenty - six projects were awarded a total of $400,000 across Jefferson County.  Grants ranged from $1,000 to $50,000 and helped projects from meat processing, dairy processing, vegetable, fruits, honey, maple syrup and wineries. Any unused funds in round I are being rolled into Round II. Michael Nuckols, Agriculture Team Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Jefferson County said, "Over the past few years, small and starting food producers have seen limited access to grants and related programs. This grant marks a noteworthy milestone in advancing the local food landscape within Jefferson County. By providing microgrants to small, often family-owned businesses and farms, this initiative will encourage innovation and expansion, leading to both economic growth and a heightened sense of food security and sustainability within the community."


In Round II of the program, there are two categories of applications accepted. In category one, applications are being accepted to enhance local food processing requesting up to $10,000. Projects must enhance the processing capacity or quality of local food products and be available for markets in Jefferson County. Projects must address food processing within one of the five major USDA food groups and can include honey and maple syrup. Examples of potential applications might include equipment needed to wash and process fruits and vegetables harvested from the field that will be sold direct to consumers or processed into value added food products. 

Category two is new this year.  Farms and food businesses may apply for grants to increase production of crops, livestock and food items.  Applicants can apply for up to $20,000 in grant funds. Projects must address food production in one of the five major food groups and honey and tree sap. An example of a project that may be considered in category two could be purchase of harvesting equipment, greenhouses, and livestock feeding equipment, among many ideas.  The result must be an increase in farm/business viability, food production, and/or food quality available directly to consumers in Jefferson County.  

There will be a 10% match requirement for projects in category one and two.  If total project cost is $10,000, the applicant must provide $1,000 in cash contributions, and the grant may provide up to $9,000 if the application is successful.   This grant program is competitive.  In round one of the grant program in 2022, 30 applications were received and 26 applications received funding.

Jay Matteson, Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator with Jefferson County Economic Development offered, “We are excited to begin Round II of the Food Resiliency Grant Program.  Round I funded great projects and began increasing our local food supply.  Our work is not done. Thanks to the support of Jefferson County, we can continue supporting our agricultural industry in the effort to increase our local food supply.”  Matteson added, “Contact Mike Nuckols or me with questions. Visit our website, to learn more about the program and to apply.”   Mr. Nuckols said, “It’s relatively easy to apply.”

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