Nov 2, 2023
USDA programs support local produce

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has awarded more than $32 million for 98 grant projects to expand and strengthen local and regional food systems and increase the availability of locally grown agricultural products.

The funding will be distributed through the Local Agriculture Market Program’s (LAMP)  Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs (FMLFPP) and the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grant program.

The USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service funds programs that help boost local and regional food systems, through grants to farmers markets and other community and regional programs. File photo

“These grant programs support local and regional food producers by broadening marketing opportunities, such as farmers markets, local food hubs, and farm-to-institution programs,” Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said in a news release. “Not only do these channels provide consistent and profitable revenue streams to famers, they also increase consumer access to fresh, locally sourced foods across the nation.”

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

FMLFPP is implemented through two grant programs, the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). The goal of the programs is to strengthen local and regional food systems through projects that support farmers through the creation of targeted marketing capabilities, training on topics such as record keeping, pricing, family-friendly marketing and agritourism activities, and strategies to retain vendors and consumers.

This year, FMPP is funding 55 projects that support producer-to-consumer markets such as farmers markets, roadside stands, agritourism activities, community-supported agriculture programs and online sales.

One project, at the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, will assist farmers market producers in diversifying and expanding their direct-to-consumer market channels. Through subawards, partner organizations will provide training adapted for central Appalachian producers and serve both rural and urban farmers.

Local Food Promotion Program

Through LFPP, 33 projects have been funded to support local and regional food businesses that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing. The awarded projects focus on activities such as supporting the processing, aggregation, distribution and storage of local and regional food products; developing value-added products; and facilitating regional food chain coordination.

One of these grants went to the First National Development Institute, a national nonprofit Native American organization, and will support 13 organizations based in seven states to increase food sovereignty and food security within their native communities. The project will create a peer support network for producers and provide expert assistance on expanding market networks and improving overall food safety.

Regional Food System Partnerships

Through RFSP, funds will support 10 partnerships across eight states and the District of Columbia. RFSP supports the development of relationships between local and regional food businesses and institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and governments to increase locally sourced food in institutional cafeterias and meal programs.

One recipient, Building an Arkansas Agricultural Network Development, will build on its existing local and regional food system value-chain work by establishing a statewide working group consisting of food producers, food systems practitioners, institutions of higher education, government agencies, industry partners and community groups.

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