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Sunday, July 14, 2024

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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

$1.5 million in grants support WA local food infrastructure

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024   

Washington state has allocated nearly $1.5 million in grants to support local food systems and supply chains. The Washington State Department of Agriculture distributed the funds to 40 projects, supporting farmers, food and meat processors, and distributors.

Galen Van Horn, local food system and supply chain specialist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture directed distribution of the funds and said there has been consolidation in the large-scale market that small and mid-sized operations can combat.

"We've just seen a clear need for investment to support those small and mid-sized operations and make sure the infrastructure is scaled to meet their needs, and that we don't just have very, very large food system infrastructure - like processing facilities and aggregation points - that are only really scaled for very large farms and food businesses," he explained.

The seeds of the program began in 2021, when the Washington Legislature distributed federal COVID-19 recovery funds to support local food infrastructure because of the pandemic's impact on supply chains. Since 2023, the Local Food System Infrastructure Grant program has distributed $8 million in state funds.

Van Horn said the program is popular and received nearly $19 million in requests - well over what it could provide. One project selected in 2022 was the nonprofit Columbia Community Creamery, which received more than $450,000.

"They got a large grant to get the equipment necessary to receive bulk milk deliveries, and then process that into jars and have it ready to be consumed. A lot of food safety involved there," he continued.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture expects to start the next application round in the summer or fall of next year. Van Horn said the agency looks for proposals that impact the regional food system, are achievable and ask for a reasonable amount of money.


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