Missouri Farmers Market Director Presents at Senate Briefing

Posted by Jen O'Brien on March 01, 2012

Missouri Farmers Market Director Presents at Senate Briefing

Today, March 1st, Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) member Caroline Todd, Director of the Columbia Farmer’s Market (CFM) in Boone County, Missouri appeared at a Senate Agriculture Committee briefing to explain how the market had used a United States Department of Agriculture Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant to expand its customer base and stimulate the local economy.  The briefing, Local Food: Growing the Economy and Expanding Healthy Food Access, highlighted how USDA programs improve access to healthy foods and stimulate job growth by linking government nutrition programs with local farmers.

The Columbia Farmer’s Market received an FMPP grant in 2009 to raise awareness about the market in the larger community and to promote the use of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly known as food stamps) at the market.

“In 2009, Boone County redeemed more than $5 million in SNAP benefits, mostly at superstores, convenience stores, and grocery stores – very little went to our county’s farmers,” according to Todd.  With a $57,000 FMPP grant, the farmers market was able to almost quadruple SNAP sales within three months.  To improve access to farm fresh produce and increase farmer incomes, CFM opened a satellite location and advertised on public transit and local radio. Todd explained, “FMPP was a good fit for us because we are a producer-only market.  When you shop at Columbia Farmer’s Market, you are purchasing fresh food directly from the farmer who grew it in our community.”

The Farmers Market Promotion Program has supported projects in all 50 states with a combined investment of more than $23 million.  Demand for the program is high, with more than 2,225 proposals submitted to the program since 2006 and of this, available funds were able to support a total of 444 awards. However, among the nation’s rapidly growing number of farmers markets and farm-direct enterprises, the FMPP has no baseline funding in 2012 without farm bill action to renew the program.  Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition said, “the Farmers Market Promotion Program meets the needs of communities and is one of the only sources of funding available to build this sector of the American food system.  We know that every farmer’s market creates about four new jobs, so we see funding FMPP as a cost effective government investment.”

To see the full Columbia Farmers Market FMPP success story click here.

To see a detailed FMPP fact sheet click here.