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New Mexico wants help to prioritize $4.6 million USDA infrastructure grant

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(The Center Square) – New Mexico state government wants input from agricultural workers as they seek funding from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico Economic Development Department, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office are looking for feedback on agricultural infrastructure issues, including facilities, structures, equipment and how much storage is necessary to address crop supply chain issues.

The state expects to receive $4.6 million from the USDA to meet its agricultural infrastructure needs via the USDA Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure grant program.

The state says the funding will do the following, according to a press release from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Build resilience in the middle of the food supply chain;Provide more and better markets to small farms and food businesses, and;Support the development of value-added products for consumers, fair prices, fair wages, and new and safe job opportunities.

The Department also said this aligns with the Governor’s Food Initiative by doing the following:

Investing in local producers’ ability to support New Mexico’s Food System;Building capacity of New Mexico’s supply chain;Increasing opportunities for more value-added products to diversify offerings and extend availability;Implementing sustainable agricultural practices and climate-smart technologies to keep agriculture in business in New Mexico and bring food closer to where it is ultimately consumed and;Providing hunger-relief efforts for New Mexicans experiencing food insecurity.

The state wants people to complete this survey to help inform the state of its agricultural needs. The deadline to complete the survey is Thursday, August 24.

Or, people can attend an informational session via Zoom at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 29, to offer input. People can register for the Zoom session here.

The Agricultural Department said the grant program’s goal is to keep money circulating in rural communities and to boost processing options concerning “business model approaches, geography, and availability to underserved communities,” the release said.

New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte thinks $4.6 million in funding would greatly benefit the state’s agricultural sector.

“We think this new funding opportunity could be a game-changer for our food system in New Mexico, so we are seeking industry input from those that are ‘the boots on the ground,’” Witte said in the release. “We will be working with our sister agency, New Mexico Economic Development Department, to provide the necessary supply chain coordination and technical assistance.”

Many different types of agricultural sectors, except for meat and poultry, will be eligible to apply for funding.

The state expects it will make grant applications available in September.

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