The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Grants is a competitive grant program put on by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (“DATCP”) that funds local food efforts to increase the sale of Wisconsin-grown or produced food products. The grants help farms and businesses more efficiently produce, process, market and distribute food in local markets. Those local markets include actual markets but also stores, schools and institutions.
The grant program was launched in 2008. Since then according to DATCP’s 2018 Impact Report, 386 applications have been received, and, of those, 58 projects were funded for a total of $1,625,400. As a result of these grants, there were over $9.9 million in new local food sales, 101 new jobs have been created across the state, and 119 jobs have been retained.
A total of $170,000 is available in grant funding, but each grant request must fall between $5,000 and $50,000. Individuals, groups or businesses involved in Wisconsin production agriculture, food processing, food distribution, food warehousing, retail food establishments or agricultural tourism operations are all considered qualified to apply. Proposals can even include collaborations or partnerships. Projects must clearly demonstrate a need, show creativity, have significant support from Wisconsin producers, and benefit the food system.
The grants, however, aren’t without some strings. Grant applicants must provide a cash or in-kind match of at least 50% of the total project budget with every dollar of grant funds requested, the applicant must show at least one dollar of matching funds. In addition, the grants may not be used to fund feasibility projects or startups. Applicants will also be asked to report back on increased local food sales, created and retained jobs, and new investments to help track the effectiveness of the program. In addition, it is a reimbursement grant. Those who receive the grants are not given any funds upfront. Instead, they must prove that they have spent money and then are reimbursed.
If you are thinking this sounds pretty darned good, the grant documents are available online at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/BuyLocalBuyWisconsinGrants.aspx. Carefully read the requirements. Even if you aren’t interested in the grant and especially if you are a start-up who can’t qualify, I recommend taking a look at the Budget document and the Evaluation Criteria (starting at page 6).
Proposals must be received by DATCP by noon, March 20, 2019. Good luck!