The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is a grant program created through a 2002 amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. The funds are intended to improve and expand domestic farmers markets as well as roadside stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and agritourism activities.

Applicants can receive up to $100,000 in funds for projects which enhance the development, promotion, and expansion of farmers markets and direct marketing programs. Eligible applicants include nonprofit corporations, agricultural cooperatives, producer networks and associations, local governments, public benefit and economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments. As provisioned in the Farm Bill, no less than 10% of FMPP grant funds must be allocated to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) for Federal nutrition programs at farmers markets. In the 2011 funding cycle, this goal was exceeded, using 26% of grant funds for this purpose. Read more about FMPP at the USDA website.

December 6, 2012

FMC and 146 farmers market leaders sign on to ask Congress to reauthorize FMPP and SFMNP

View the letter here.

2012 FMPP Awards Announced

Deputy Secretary Merrigan announced the 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) awards on September 21st. Over $9 million was awarded to initiatives seeking to improve the connection between agricultural producers and consumers, strengthen local economies and improve access to healthy foods. Congratulations to the awardees! See the list here.

We’re Sorry, Your Farm Bill is Expired

Oct 1 2012 

Due to inaction in Congress, the 2008 Farm Bill expired on September 30th. While the big ticket items such as food stamps, crop insurance, and commodity support will continue to receive funding, lesser-known programs that drive innovation, create jobs, tackle environmental problems and support the next generation of farmers will lose all funding starting today, Monday, October 1. FMC has seen the significant impact of these programs first hand, and is particularly concerned about the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).

For nine years, FMPP money has helped increase access to healthy foods, strengthen regional food systems, fuel rural and urban job creation, and build the capacity of small and medium-sized farms. FMPP was created through a 2002 Farm Bill amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976. Funds can be used to bring local farm products into federal nutrition programs, educate and perform outreach, purchase equipment (including cutting edge green technology), provide training in business and strategic planning, and fuel market start-up and expansion. 

One year of FMPP funding can drastically improve the capacity of a market, as demonstrated at Ohio’s Toledo Farmers Market (TFM). Five years ago, TFM was losing customers and had difficulty attracting new vendors. Without an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system they were unable to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP—formerly food stamps), which excluded a significant portion of their customer base and prevented the market from serving the whole community. 

With a one-time, 2008 FMPP grant, TFM took the first step toward transformation by purchasing an EBT machine and providing training to vendors. According to Dan Madigan, the Executive Director of TFM, “FMPP kick started an evolution.” FMPP funds were used to conduct mass radio and television campaigns alerting the community of the ability to use EBT at the market. A partnership with the Department of Jobs and Family Services provided further promotion through mailers and word-of-mouth. Additionally, a weekly newsletter was developed to provide vendors with guidance on marketing, food safety and product displays. 

SNAP/EBT sales at TFM increased from $500 in 2008 to over $5,000 in 2009, with general sales rising approximately 20%. With FMPP funding, the market was able to bring fresh, healthy food to low income members of the community, while increasing overall sales, and ensuring a profitable day for their producers. TFM continued the momentum by building on contacts made during the execution of FMPP project. In the following years, partnerships allowed the market to raise enough funds to construct a permanent customer service building where EBT transactions and cooking demonstrations take place. Educational programs within the local schools are in development, and TFM is pursuing 501(c)(3) status this year. Today, the market gets between 3 to 5 thousand shoppers per day, has 65 vendors, and serves as the one of the city’s most vibrant social meeting places. Madigan credits FMPP with jump starting the market’s success, stating, “FMPP put things in motion—people started wanting to get involved and be a part of this motion. FMPP allowed us to initiate that involvement and harness it to ensure sustained growth in the future.”

Without FMPP funds in the Farm Bill, Congress is denying other markets across the country an opportunity to improve services and strengthen their local food system. When Congress returns in November, please tell them to support farmers, consumers and communities by passing a new Farm Bill, and making FMPP a priority. For more information about the Farm Bill, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website, and stay tuned for action alerts. The Farmers Market Advocate Toolkit is available as an action guide, and FMC is always available to answer any questions.

The Future of the Farmers Market Promotion Program