Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded the Department of Commerce for awarding $65.1 million to the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation Coalition, known as the F3 Initiative. The grant is being awarded through the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, a program created by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act that was signed into law in March 2021.

The F3 Initiative will build on and improve the Fresno-Merced region’s agriculture community by improving food production and manufacturing processes as well as addressing racial and economic disparities in the agriculture industry. More information on the F3 Initiative is available here.

“California’s Central Valley boasts some of the most productive agricultural land, skilled agricultural workers and capable ag employers in the world. The F3 Initiative will use its unique position to help create more sustainable food systems, increase ag productivity and improve the quality of life for farmworkers,” Senator Feinstein said.

“California continues to lead the nation in a wide range of forward-thinking initiatives, so it only makes sense that we’re leading the way on modernizing our nation’s agriculture sector. This is particularly critical as climate change and drought place great pressure on our food systems.”

Senator Feinstein in October 2021 sent a letter of support to the Commerce Department for this project. The Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Coalition is one of 21 winners of the American Rescue Plan’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant competition. More information on the grant program is available here.

Ashley Swearengin, president and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, said: “This is an unprecedented investment in California’s Central Valley driven by extraordinary efforts and partnership between large and small farmers, academic partners, community organizations and the federal and state government. Governor Newsom, Senators Feinstein and Padilla and the Valley’s congressional delegation have led the charge in ensuring the region that feeds the nation is the nation’s priority.”

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said: “The Build Back Better Regional Challenge provides bold investments to transform local economies. This EDA investment will help unite a coalition of partners from academia, labor, business, government, and philanthropy around a shared vision of innovative, equitable, and resilient agricultural industry in California.”

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo said: “EDA is proud to support the vision of the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Coalition and its partners. This transformative investment will catalyze this initiative to drive agricultural innovation in one of the country’s most important food-producing regions.”

Background from the Department of Commerce:

With $65.1 million in funding from EDA, the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Coalition will accelerate the integration of technology and skills in the region’s agriculture industry – improving productivity and job quality for existing farmworkers while driving a more resilient and sustainable food system.

The projects funded as part of this award include the launch of iCREATE, a new ag-tech hub, with the mission to accelerate the development and transfer of technology between researchers at local universities and farmers across the region.

At the same time, community colleges throughout the Central Valley will receive access to new technology and training to equip students and workers with the skills needed to access higher quality, higher paying jobs in ag-tech – improving both farm productivity and wages.