Innovative DE Ag Projects Receive $665K

Delaware Department of Agriculture Awards Over $665,000 for Innovative Projects to Improve Food Supply Chain

July 25, 2023

DOVER, Del.  — The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) today announced it is awarding $665,872 in funding to 12 projects through the First State Food System Program. The program, managed by the Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy, strengthens the local food system by supporting the broad food supply chain spectrum.

“We have had an outstanding response to the funding available through the First State Food System Program, demonstrating the continuing need to strengthen Delaware’s food supply chain infrastructure and create new and expanded markets for our farmers and producers,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse.

The First State Food System Program is designed to highlight the interconnection of systems and processes that shape nutrition, food security, health, community development, and agriculture. Since this program began in 2022, nearly $350,000 has been awarded to projects addressing community food access and approximately $500,000 to projects improving processing capacity across the state.

T.A. Farms, LLC received Cycle 1 funding for their “Poultry Revamping Project.” Producer Elizabeth Carter shared, “We would process roughly 450 birds in about five hours with our old system. Our new system can process about 700 birds in the same amount of time. Especially during our holiday season, this allows us to process the birds efficiently, allowing for a fresher product. The beneficiaries are all the consumers looking for fresh local meat, the organizations we have donated to, and our family members. Creating a physically easier work environment allows our family members to think about the future. It allows us the mindset to think long-term in the meat business.”

Awards are approved to support projects in each county. Each awarded project is designed to help Delaware’s food supply chain. The planned work will focus on one or more of the following: food processing, distribution, community access, and food production. In this year’s funding for Cycle 2:

  • 50% of projects were awarded to Delaware farms.
  • 34% of the projects were awarded to community organizations focused on community development, nutrition education, and food access.
  • Many of the projects related to processing, storage, and distribution include the collaboration of two or more food supply chain operators.

The First State Food System Program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), championed by Delaware’s Congressional Delegation – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, along with Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. Passed by Congress, ARPA was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021.

Projects funded in Cycle 2 include the following:


  • Bennett Orchards LLC, Wind Machine Freeze Protection to Mitigate Climate Change Effects and Strengthen Local Fruit Supply


  • Marvelous Produce, Strengthening Delaware’s Fruit and Vegetable Supply Chain – Farm to End User

Markets and Industry

  • Powers Farm, Farm Store Expansion

Food Waste

  • Food Bank of Delaware, Compact Membrane Fresh Produce Preservation Phase 2


  • Fifer Orchards, Local Food System – Farm-to-Table Kitchen
  • Dittmar Family Farms LLC, Vegetable Processing and Cold Storage Expansion (Also includes storage and distribution)
  • D & J Custom Cutting, Ready-to-Eat Meat Processing
  • TA Farms LLC, Value-added Products

Storage and Distribution

  • Love-in-Deed Community Development, Food Closet Capacity Building & Super Foods Urban Garden Project

Community Access

  • La Red Health Center, Sussex County Community Fridge Program
  • Teach a Person to Fish Society, Milton Pantry Garden Beds
  • Wilmington Alliance, Growing West Center City: 7th & West Streets Community Garden

Last year, the Historic Lewes Farmers Market (HLFM) received funding for their project – Strengthening the Farm to Pantry Food System in Sussex County. HLFM Volunteer Nancy Staisey stated, “Volunteers and farmers both embraced the expansion of this program. The small farms are very enthusiastic about this program as they can sell more product while being able to feed those in need.”

The Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy plans to open the window for the last round of funding under the First State Food System Program beginning in February 2023. Complete program information can be found at

The Delaware Council on Farm and Food Policy strives to facilitate and support a local food system where farmers can access viable markets, Delaware households can access nutritious and wholesome food options within their communities, and where the impacts of supply chain disruptions can be diminished.

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