A Historic Year for FMLFPP
By: Diana Broadaway, Network Coordinator Posted On: May 12, 2021
It’s FMLFPP season once again! This year the timeframe for applying has been shortened to 45 days with applications being accepted now through June 21, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT and as always, must be submitted electronically via www.grants.gov. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, there have been a number of changes built into the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) Requests for Application (RFA), particularly with regard to available funding and subsequent match requirements.
For the purposes of most applicants, the most important thing to know about the 2021 RFA is that the available funding is the largest that it has ever been and much of the funding only requires a 10% match.
Funding Sources and Match
For 2021, the $76.9 million in available funding will be split equally between FMPP and LFPP with approximately $38.5 million going to each program. While there are three different sources of funding for this year’s grants, the funds for these two programs are effectively split into two pools:
- $23.5 million that will require a 10% applicant match
- $15 million that will require a 25% match.
Also important to note here is the significance of the match commitment stated within your application. Applicants will have the option to submit their application committing to either a 10% or 25% match. If an applicant commits to a 10% match, they will initially only be considered for the $23.5m. Whereas, if an applicant commits to a 25% match, their application will be eligible to compete within the entire pool of funding, although those grantees will be required to provide that 25% match regardless of which pool of funding they are awarded from. If there are not enough high-ranking* projects committed to a 25% match, AMS may allow other high-ranking applicants to adjust their match offer from 10% to 25%. It is also worth noting that all applicants will be scored and ranked without regard to the funding pool that they are applying for.
Borrowing from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) recent blog “$76.9 MILLION IN LOCAL AND REGIONAL FOOD PROJECT GRANTS NOW AVAILABLE,“ FMC would also like to encourage applicants to think about this matching structure as similar to a sliding scale fee system. As the NSAC points out, “Applying under the 25% matching funds option for those wealthier organizations that can afford to is a way in which organizations can concretely help to support more equitable outcomes within the program making more resources available to those organizations and communities the most in need.” The NSAC’s blog post also includes additional detail about the breakdown of funding sources and matching requirements.
FMPP Project Types and Maximum Awards
As in years past, FMPP applicants may apply under one of two project types – Capacity Building or Community Development Training and Technical Assistance. The influx of additional funding this season means that the maximum awards under each category have been increased:
FMPP 2021 RFA may be accessed here.
Likewise, LFPP applicants may once again apply under the Planning or Implementation project types. Maximum awards for LFPP have been adjusted for FY2021 as well:
LFPP 2021 RFA may be accessed here.
The USDA notes that raising the maximum funding amount “will allow larger, experienced organizations to support smaller organizations through subawards and coordinated multi-group projects that meet shared needs such as those that have arisen during the pandemic,”…which “could allow larger, more experienced entities to support smaller organizations who could also benefit from a federal grant.” If considering these types of partnerships or collaborations as part of your proposal, AMS also “encourages projects that assist underserved local and regional agricultural businesses, producer networks and associations, and local and tribal governments in responding to COVID-19 disruptions and impacts,” although “funding is not contingent upon applicants directly addressing these issues.”
Waiver for Grantees with Open FMLFPP Projects
This year’s RFA allows recipients to apply for additional FMPP and LFPP grants this year, even if current grant(s) have not yet closed. An applicant may be eligible for one additional FY2021 FMPP award and/or one additional FY2021 LFPP award. This is a significant variation from previous years and AMS indicates this allowance was made “due to the possible need for unforeseen pandemic adaptations and response” which may not have been fully realized during the 2020 FMLFPP grant cycle. However, an applicant should be careful not to duplicate the purpose or goals of any FMPP or LFPP their organization currently has open. The new proposal also cannot be an extension of those activities. Rather, it must have a separate and distinct set of objectives. The applicant must also demonstrate the organizational capacity to manage multiple projects and any associated funding.
Apply to Become a Reviewer
Review opportunities are also a great way to learn more about the requirements of and process associated with applying for a particular grant. If you have considered applying for an FMPP or LFPP grant and would like a better understanding of how proposals are evaluated, the criteria used and how it is applied, you may want to consider applying to become a grant reviewer.
This year the grant reviewer contract and training process for FMPP and LFPP will be handled through Grant Solutions. At this time, AMS estimates a 4-6 week commitment of time. Hourly commitment is dependent on the number of reviewers recruited as well as the number of overall applications received, which is expected to be much larger than usual with the addition of the H.R. 133 funding for the 2021 cycle. AMS estimates the peer review process for FMPP and LFPP to be completed by the end of July. The stipends for reviewers are currently slated at $700 for regular panelists and $850 for lead panelists but could be subject to change depending on the number of reviewers recruited. Please note that reviewers cannot also be applicants for funding within the same program (FMPP and LFPP are considered separate programs under LAMP).
The large influx of additional stimulus funds and reduced match requirement associated with these funds will hopefully allow for a broader group of applicants, including new, previously denied, and lower capacity applicants who may be unable to reach the 25% match typically required. The additional flexibility granted by this much larger pool of funds and lowered match requirement means that:
- If you have not applied for FMLFPP funding in this past, this may be a good year to try, although the shortened 45 day application period means applicants will need to move quickly!
- Consider revisiting a proposal which may not have been awarded funding in the past. Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been funded before. Applicants who revise and resubmit their applications have a higher success rate than first time applicants.
- Pursue partnerships with other regional entities/organizations who share similar goals. Grants done in partnership are more likely to be successful, and can ease the burden of application and administration, especially for smaller organizations.
- Review previously funded FMLFPP projects and consider replicating those ideas within your state/region. AMS’s Seeds of Success page also highlights impacts and lessons learned from recent FMLFPP projects.
Updates to Section 4.6.4 are also worth noting as it relates to “pre-award cost flexibility” and incurring of expenses related to project up to 180 days before date of award so long as those costs 1) “are necessary to conduct the project; and 2) would be allowable under the potential award and without AMS prior approval.”
It is worth noting that in FY2020, AMS received 206 applications for FMPP and were able to fund 49 (or 24%) of projects proposed. With the significant increase in funding this year, AMS hopes to be able to award a larger group of applicants. As the number of applicants will also likely increase, remember to remain conscious of the technical requirements of the application process as these details can make all the difference in whether or not a project is awarded funding.
We always recommend that prospective grantees check out past awards. Take a few minutes and scroll through Past LFPP Awards- Thumbnails and Past FMPP Awards – Thumbnails to see how grantees have approached the same issue or how they measured their grant.
- USDA Invests $92.2 Million in Grants for Local, Regional Food Producers Affected by the Pandemic (USDA)
- How do I Apply for the FMPP Grant? (USDA)
- How do I Apply for the LFPP Grant? (USDA)
- Crafting Winning LFPP/FMPP Proposals (USDA/CSU/Wallace Center/FMC)
- Guide to Applying for a Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant (FMC)
- Applying for Food Systems Grants (CSU)
- FARMERS MARKET AND LOCAL FOOD PROMOTION PROGRAM (NSAC)
USDA-AMS will be hosting a Grants.gov Training Webinar on Tuesday, May 25, 2021 – 2:00-3:00 pm EST and a Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) Applicant Webinar on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 – 2:00-3:00 pm EST. You may access more information and register for these events here.
*Per the USDA: “All applications will undergo review according to merit and customary evaluation procedures. Ultimate project funding will be determined based on aggregate ranking.”