By KEVIN WALKER
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has announced it is taking applications for its Rural Development Fund (RDF) grants program.
This competitive grant is designed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries and support infrastructure benefiting rural communities in Michigan. RDF grants are available for projects that deal with issues such as training workers in land-based industries, energy related occupations, transportation, communications, water and wastewater infrastructure-related occupations and others that will benefit rural communities.
According to MDARD, a land-based industry is one that includes food and agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas production and tourism. Most but not all counties are eligible for the RDF grant. A list of eligible counties is available online at www.michigan.gov/mdardgrants
The proposals will be evaluated through a competitive process. The maximum limit on project grant fund requests is $100,000. The total allotment of funding for the current year is approximately $800,000.
All proposals require at least a 30 percent cash match. Applicants for grant funds will be asked to describe how the project will impact and produce measurable outcomes for rural communities.
There were 17 grant recipients in 2017. Some went to local governments for infrastructure projects; others went to nonprofit groups for environmental or human service projects; still others went to farms or farm-related businesses to improve or expand business capacity.
One grant for $170,000 went to Michigan State University’s Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research (NWMHR) Foundation to purchase more cherry orchard acreage adjoining the research station. NWMHR station Director Nikki Rothwell said more acreage was essential to conduct more research into the fruit pest spotted wing drosophila (SWD).
“We were so excited to have bearing tart cherry trees to conduct our 2017 SWD research,” she said. “The information we gathered from the trial on these new trees will make an impact that growers can implement for the 2018 growing season. We would not have been able to conduct this critical research without the trees on our new property.”
Proposals for the next round of grants are due by 3 p.m. on Jan. 16, 2018. Those interested in applying for a grant should visit www.michigan.gov/mdardgrants to view the application and program overview. Any further communications concerning this request for proposals should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Proposals received after 3 p.m. will not be considered. The Rural Development Fund grants are funded by the Nonferrous Metallic Minerals Extraction Severance Tax. The Rural Development Fund was created under P.A. 411 of 2012 and revenue from the severance tax is in accordance with P.A. 410 of 2012.