Organic Farming Listserv

From Center for Regional Food Systems at MSU

Shared with you by Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])

January 19, 2021


If you are working for or own a food-based business, you should check out these grants noted below that are being offered by the state of Michigan and federal government.


Also, like every winter there are many agriculture educational opportunities. This year is no exception, but they are on-line or offered virtually. There are benefits to this, no winter travel. But virtual programs do not offer the valuable networking and catching up with friends that is so wonderful at in-person meetings.  But…..

Why not coordinate with a friend or mentor to watch an educational video at the same time then chat about it, or even text each other with comments during the program. No, ot is not the same as in person but at least you have someone to share and discuss the experience.


Grant and Loan Opportunities

Gain Understanding of the Grant Process and What is Appropriate for Funding

 MSUE and the MSU Product Center are collaborating with USDA Rural Development and the Michigan Small Business Development Center to hold information sessions on the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant, VAPG.  The online sessions will be held Friday, January 22nd and again on Monday, January 25th, at 9:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively. These live webinars will repeat the same presentations.


The webinars will feature Michigan Rural Development officials, as well as staff from both the MSU Product Center and MI-SBDC explaining how they might assist applicants. This assistance might take the form of concept development, helping with business plans, or providing needed market research. In addition, Product Center Ag Economists have authored many of the feasibility studies that are required for larger scale projects. 


The grant cycle is currently open until mid-March. While this grant is a heavy lift for some of the growers we work with, these funds have been awarded to many value-added farmers in our communities. For more information of the VAPG, see:


If you would like to learn more about the VAPG, please consider registering at:

9:00 a.m., Friday, Jan. 22nd session:

6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25th session:


Do you or did you work in a food industry business and lost your job or hours due to COVID 19?

The state of Michigan is offering a grant of up to $1650 per person.  Michigan's Employee Assistance Grants program is designed to provide support to employees impacted by the MI Department of Health and Human Services' Gathering and Face Mask Order that took effect on November 18, 2020. The application period will open on January 15, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. and will be available until January 25, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. The grants, of up to $1,650, are not first come, first serve (as the recent business grants were) and the application will be open for submissions for the entirety of that 10-day period. Employees working in restaurants, bars, food trucks, and other impacted businesses are eligible to apply.  See full details and apply at


Webinar how to apply for a PPP loan for food industry businesses that lost income due to COVID 19
If you have food businesses in your networks that may benefit from the Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans, please join us on Jan 20 at 4pm EST. Click here to register for this webinar.


Webinar Description: Taste the Local Difference welcomes local farms and food businesses to join this informational webinar. A new round of funding has just been announced for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). This is your opportunity to learn more and ask questions about the PPP with SBA Economic Development Specialist, June Foyt. In these uncertain times, we encourage you to explore and apply for funding even if you don't think you need it. This could really make the difference, and it never hurts to be prepared.

1. Intro from Taste the Local Difference (Tricia Phelps)
2. Overview from SBA (June Foyt)
3. Resources from SBDC (Michael Nunneley)
4. Q&A

Kelly Wilson, RDN (she/her) Director of Community Partners 

Taste the Local Difference® 

[log in to unmask]  248-891-7195 (C) 


Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announces specialty crop grant opportunity

LANSING — The Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) last week announced a request for proposals through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service.

The program is designed to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan’s specialty crops, which are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”

The grants have a maximum award of $100,000 for research proposals and $125,000 for marketing, training, and education proposals designed to enhance the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crops, including but not limited to the following: promotion; marketing; research; nutrition; trade enhancement; food safety; food security; plant health programs; education; increased knowledge and consumption; increased innovation; improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems; environmental concerns and conservation; product development; good agricultural practices; good handling practices; and good manufacturing practices.

Funding priority will be given to projects with a focus on Market Enhancement (Market Expansion and Access and Farm to Institution); Research (Health; Pest Management; Farm Sustainability); and Training and Education (Food Safety; Environmental Sustainability; Workforce/Labor).

Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations; local, state, and federal government entities; and for-profit organizations. The organizations must be legal entities recognized by the IRS, and applicants must reside and/or conduct their business in Michigan. Proposals should demonstrate how the project will potentially produce measurable impacts for the specialty crop industry as a whole, and not benefit only a specific product or a single organization, institution, or individual.

Grant proposals must be emailed to MDARD at MDAgrants@ by 3 p.m. on Feb. 25.

Agricultural Educational Program Opportunities


Interested in learning how to write grants?

This is a program specifically for farmers Application to Implementation


Hear from farmers how they have succeeded to be awarded grants from SARE (Sustainable Ag Research and Extension) grant program.


Jan 13 Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS), North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (NCR SARE) and Michigan State University Extension presented a 2 hour zoom to assist farmers to write SARE grants. To see grants that are available by SARE visit:


Note that Farmer Rancher grants (farmers work with each other to test possible ideas to improve their farming practices) and the Partnership grant that teams ag professionals with groups of farmers to test new concepts or approaches for farming are the grants that are specifically targeted to engage farmers in on farm research. However, the other SARE grants farmers can participate as hosts to on-farm research sites and/or on farm field days.


If you missed this event offered by MIFFS, North Central SARE and MSUE here is the link for you to watch on YouTube.   The link is: We have posted the recording from yesterday on our YouTube channel and it is available at


This program features Michigan farmers that have used SARE grants and resources to conduct research and education projects on their farms. Speakers will be providing their first-hand accounts of their experience applying for SARE grants, implementing their projects, reporting their results and how their projects have impacted their farms.



Michigan Good Food Fund offers Webinar Series:

Loan Preparation for New and Beginning Farmers


Michigan Good Food Fund is proud to offer educational programs and assistance to farmers and new food businesses in Michigan. They strive to assist farmers and food entrepreneurs to obtain funding when other funding may not be available. This program aims to improve the economy of the entrepreneur and the state, as jobs are created and innovative food-based businesses (including farming) are established.


The How to Apply for a Loan webinar was aired on Dec 8 but can now be seen at a YouTube Video recording at  It shares how to apply a loan with a better chance of being funding- targeted specifically to farmers.


On March 8 at noon you will have the opportunity to attend a virtual program using Zoom that will feature Northern Initiatives, a farmer lending institution, that is a non-profit CDFI. This non-profit provides loans to small business owners and entrepreneurs in Michigan that might not qualify for loans from traditional banks for a variety of reasons.  Learn more and register here.


Food Safety Practices- A program to help you on your farm and it’s FREE!

Are you wondering about how you can practice Food Safety on your farm with ease? Michigan offers free assistance to learn about and implement food safety practices on your farm. Michigan State University Extension has teamed up with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to offer guidance to growers to identify and implement food safety practices. This is a free and non-litigatory service aimed to guide you toward learning and implementing food safety on your farm.

Steps to getting your completion certificate that indicates you have implemented practices that promote food safety.


A PSRA is a way for a farm to ensure that they are following best produce safety practices as they align with the Produce Safety Rule and Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).


Contact your local Produce Safety Technician to determine when they can meet you or another food safety representative on your farm for a PSRA.


Schedule a date that you will be able to do a walk-through of the farm and
review the PSRA with a Technician.


Meet on the farm and do a walk-through of farm. Review the assessment and parts of your operation that apply to produce safety, or schedule a follow up to go through the assessment.


An action plan is provided to the grower on the next steps they need to take to
implement certain practices and procedures.


The farm works to implement action items and complete their
Food Safety Plan, with continued assistance from Technician as needed.


The farm contacts their Technician once they feel they have completed
the action items and their Food Safety Plan.


A Technician schedules another visit with you to check that the action
items and Food Safety Plan are ready to go. (This may take multiple visits.)


Once complete, the Technician submits a certificate to be signed
and approved by the State.


The Technician awards the farm a Completion Certificate and helps them
complete the Logo Agreement if they would like logo usage.


The Technician will continue to be available to provide assistance after completion. The Technician will schedule a revisit with the farm on the 3 year mark of them being awarded a Certificate.   This is detailed as the 'expiration date' on the Certificate.


If there are no produce safety concerns on the 3 year mark, the Certificate stays with the farm.  If any action items arise, the Technician works with the grower to implement any changes necessary.


During this time of reflection, the Michigan Family Farms Conference planning team will be hosting regional listening sessions with growers, conference attendees, resource providers, and other partners. The intent of these sessions is to assess what is working, what can be improved, and will guide the planning team towards creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equity-focused conference with more community representation guiding the way. If you would like more information or to be part of the listening sessions to be held from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 please email [log in to unmask] or call 517-709-8271.



Listening Sessions Hosted by MIFFS

During this time of reflection, the Michigan Family Farms Conference planning team will be hosting regional listening sessions with growers, conference attendees, resource providers, and other partners. The intent of these sessions is to assess what is working, what can be improved, and will guide the planning team towards creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equity-focused conference with more community representation guiding the way. If you would like more information or to be part of the listening sessions to be held from Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 please email [log in to unmask] or call 517-709-8271.


Get 5 Great agriculture Conferences for the Price of 1!

Yes you read correctly, since the conferences are all virtual, several of the great farming conferences have teamed up to offer one great program. They are call this Growing Stronger-Collaborative Conference of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, Feb 21-27. This program is $125 for all sessions and will be available after these dates as recordings until


Employment Opportunities

Seeking Program Coordinator

Keep Growing Detroit is seeking a Garden Development Coordinator to provide technical assistance and support for families, community groups, and organizations that are interested in growing vegetable gardens in the city. The Garden Development Coordinator is responsible for the logistics and distribution of garden resources, including soil tests, site visits and technical assistance for participants in the Garden Resource Program. They will also support engagement to reach and serve Detroit’s families with young children. The Garden Development Coordinator works closely with and reports to the KGD Co-Director responsible for Garden Development.

Please see the attached full job posting. 

Thanks, Lindsay 


Lindsay Pielack (she/her)

Keep Growing Detroit

1445 Adelaide

Detroit, MI 48207







Vicki Morrone

Organic Farming Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-282-3557 (cell)

[log in to unmask]

sorrone11 (skype)


Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice, and belonging is having that voice be heard.



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