FMPP Targeted for Elimination
Posted On: June 13, 2017
June 13, 2017
President Trump’s proposed budget recommends the complete elimination of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) in the upcoming Farm Bill. FMPP is the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) primary grant program serving America’s farmers markets and direct marketing-ranchers and farmers.
According to an explanatory note accompanying the President’s budget, “The budget eliminates funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, for which there is no Federal purpose.” The Farmers Market Coalition strongly disagrees. The stated mission of the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service–the agency that administers FMPP–is “to create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS also provides the agriculture industry with valuable services to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country.” FMPP falls squarely within this mission.
For eleven years, FMPP has provided small grants to farmers markets and direct-to-consumer agricultural operations, creating and strengthening hundreds of opportunities for American farmers to bring their products directly to American consumers. Today, this direct-to-consumer market stands at over $3 billion, having more than doubled in the last decade. Because farmers markets drive innovation and incubate businesses, their success has ripple effects throughout the food system. Two decades ago, farmers markets gave the first Certified Organic farmers direct access to consumers, demonstrating the existence of a market that today stands at $43 billion. Today, many products and food marketing trends led by farmers markets —including an emphasis on fresh, local, and heirloom or heritage breeds—have been adopted by the grocery and restaurant sectors, creating new opportunities and choices for both farmers and consumers.
Without the local farmers market, beginning farmers would be unable get their start in agriculture, and new food businesses would have no way to bring their product directly to customers. Farmers markets have a big impact on community health and wealth, and they do so with minimal overhead. The USDA recognized the importance of building the capacity of farmers markets across the country, and created the FMPP grants to support and strengthen the sector. In 2015, the majority of FMPP funded markets offered nutrition education and hosted community events, and 34% directly supported nearby businesses by offering shared facilities or business development services. By offering this transformative funding, the USDA and has advanced marketing and education standards, shared the successes of individual markets with their peers from across the country, and built a nationwide network of more than 8,600 markets and 156,000 farmers and ranchers.
The growth of the farmers market sector as a whole represents the sum of thousands of success stories, hundreds of which FMPP has had a hand in. “Our FMPP grant funding played a vital role in the market’s present-day success” says Angie Prosser of the City of Greenville South Carolina. “Today, the Saturday Market sees upwards of 4,000 individuals compared to less than 2,000 per week prior to the city’s FMPP grant.”
The President has repeatedly spoken of the need to spur economic growth and opportunity across the American economy, but especially in rural America. Eliminating a program with a track-record of success in growing opportunities for up-and-coming markets, farmers, and ranchers is not a good place to start.