Sep 27, 2018
Michigan specialty crop programs benefit from USDA resources

As part of USDA’s $102.7 million investment to expand specialty crop markets through five different grant programs, the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) has been awarded just over $2.1 million to support state farmers growing fruits, vegetables, tress nuts and nursery crops through the agency’s Specialty Crop Block Grants.

The city of Tecumseh was also awarded an additional $71,641.49, under USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), to create the Tecumseh Area Local Food Access and Distribution Project through an existing commercial location, The Market on Evans, which was purchased for this purpose. A new part-time market coordinator will organize the efforts and will be employed by the Tecumseh Area Chamber of Commerce.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College was also awarded $271,058 that must be matched with $101,582, in local funds through USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), to develop and support local supply chains in Southwest Michigan through the college’s ValleyHUB food hub at the Food Innovation Center.

The project will build on strong relationships between ValleyHUB, small and mid-size diversified farms, and will continue to support growers though USDA GAP certification to supply institutional customers, adding 15 new growers to the Michigan GroupGAP Network and up to 55 total new growers to ValleyHUB’s supplier network.

Michigan State University (MSU), also received $285,036.46 in LFPP funding that will be matched with $102,365.00 in local funding to create a statewide Formal Marketing and Logistics Network for Michigan Food Hubs. A group of eight existing Michigan-based food hubs intend to develop a collaborative business network, including transportation, light processing and marketing; and enable more efficient hub- to-hub supply transactions.

MSU was also awarded one of six grants under USDA’s the Acer Access and Development Program (Acer) . The $249,747 grant will be used to create an online platform of resources for maple syrup producers, replacing outdated printed material with online educational videos. MSU will work with the University of Vermont to assist in the creation of new content.

MSU was also awarded two matching grants under USDA’s Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) to assist in exploring new market opportunities, including $34,645 to complete an assessment of manure – based compost markets in the state; and another $185,702.17 to maximize marketing returns to producers for consumer demand regarding animal welfare practices and biotechnology in animal agriculture.

Nationwide, the resources, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), include:

  • $72.15 million is directed to state departments of agriculture in 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) to support farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops. States use the SCBGP to fund research, agricultural Extension activities and programs to increase demand for agricultural goods of value to farmers in the state or territory.
  • $13.35 million is directed to 49 projects supporting direct producer-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agri-tourism through the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).
  • $13.45 million is directed to 44 projects to support the development and expansion of local and regional food businesses to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets through the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP).
  • $2.67 million is awarded to six projects through the Acer Access and Development Program (Acer). This funding supports the efforts of states, tribal governments and research institutions to increase market opportunities for the domestic maple syrup industry.

$1.1 million is awarded for nine projects through the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.


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