USDA Farmers Market, Local and Regional Food Systems Grants Announced

      Posted On: October 2, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced this week that it has awarded $27 million in grant funding through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and $9.3 million in grant funding through the new Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) grant program. The grants fall under the Local Agricultural Marketing Program (LAMP) authorized by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill). 

FMLFPP supports the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer markets and local and regional food business enterprises. USDA awarded projects in 37 states and 3 territories.

  • Awards totaling approximately $13.5 million were made to 49 Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) projects. These projects develop, coordinate and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets including farmers markets, roadside stands, agritourism activities, community-supported agriculture programs (CSA) and online sales. 
  • Awards totaling approximately $13.5 million were made to 44 Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) projects. These projects support and promote local and regional food business enterprises that serve as intermediaries in indirect producer-to-consumer marketing; support the processing, aggregation, distribution and storage of local and regional food products that are marketed locally or regionally, including value-added agricultural products; and assist with business development plans and feasibility studies. 

The new Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP) supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The program focuses on strengthening the viability and resilience of regional food economies through collaboration and coordination. USDA awarded 23 partnerships in 15 states. 

AMS works with a variety of organizations to support rural America and the nation’s agricultural sector. For additional information, visit the AMS Grants & Opportunities web page.

FMC is proud to partner with many organizations and change-makers in local food systems. We’d like to highlight the amazing work of a few of the grantees who we work closely with and are even our members! We are always thrilled when organizations already doing great work in our field are given the opportunity to expand, innovate, and serve their communities. 

Farmers Market Promotion Program Grantees: 

  • The Land Connection, Illinois: The Land Connection (TLC) proposes a project to help farmers and ranchers build more resilient farm businesses through the diversification of revenue streams and crafting strong marketing strategies. These efforts will prepare producers to not only tackle the next disruption that upsets our local food economy but reduce risk and increase resiliency for the long-term.
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana: Sustaining Farmers Market Success will build on the foundation of NCAT’s 2016 FMPP project, Building Farmers Market Success, through creating a farmer’s market and vendor support program, developing a farmer’s market impact report, and increasing the number of local food access points that accept SNAP. 
  • GrowNYC, New York: The project focuses on proven techniques and strategies to increase farmers’ direct sales, including customer behavioral analysis, at-market display optimization, logo and branding development, and point-of-sale optimization, as well as expanding upon that work through software developer Fellow Farmer to include the development of streamlined pre-order, curbside pickup, and delivery options for farmers market customers.
  • Fulton Stall Market, New York: Website promotion has made it possible for the market to host large agritourism events that increase market awareness and sales to farmers by enabling thousands of NYC consumers to sample and buy products from far-upstate regions. The indoor farmers market has lost significant sales from the departure of Lower Manhattan office workers, while the outdoor farmers market and agritourism events have been canceled until further notice. To enable the market and continue to deliver income for farmers and producers, funding has been granted to re-engineer the website for online sales functionality and new messaging. 
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, North Carolina: Farmers will receive technical assistance in four program areas including: 1) market access, 2) local produce safety, 3) season extension, and 4) organic production and certification in order to increase their revenue from local, direct-to-consumer sales. 
  • Feast Down East, North Carolina: Since 2012, FDE has distributed affordable, fresh produce to public housing neighborhoods in Wilmington, NC, where access to these items is limited by socioeconomic and geographic barriers. In addition to alleviating food insecurity, the development of this project will further benefit local producers, given that product is sourced from limited-resource farmers via the FDE Food Hub. Anticipated outcomes include expanded access to healthy, local food by a more diverse consumer base, higher sales and improved project sustainability, and increased income for farm businesses owned by limited-resource farmers. 
  • Rural Advancement Foundation International, North Carolina: This project addresses barriers to business sustainability by working with farmers to shift in the marketplace and meet increasing demand; thus, serving both farmers and buyers. We will focus on partnerships with farmers of color serving communities of color and/or underserved communities that lack resources. By expanding our direct service capacity on both the supply and demand sides, RAFI-USA will support the development, coordination, and expansion of local and regional producer-to-consumer markets.
  • Adams County Farmers Market Association, Pennsylvania: The overarching directive of this project is to fortify the longevity of ACFMA’s various consumer-to-producer initiatives and build an even stronger farmers market that better serves regional growers. Accomplishing each of the goals will ultimately provide a model that other regional farmers market organizations will benefit from. 
  • Union County Farmers Market, Tennessee: The primary focus is marketing with expansion of social platforms, primarily Facebook, to create a lasting and growing customer base. This will enhance our social space for market organizers, customers, vendors, and local communities to engage, use Facebook as a leveraged marketing platform to publish timely information and to reach and retain customers and vendors. The project also plans to create a leveraged market and vendor web platform to function as a cyber–social hub to connect and engage the local community. 
  • Texas Center for Local Food, Texas: The Texas Local Food Direct Marketing Network Collaborative will be Texas’ first statewide network with the purpose to meet training and technical assistance needs of direct market producers and farmers markets.  Network collaborator organizations will become stronger as their constituents’ businesses thrive, and consumers will benefit from a stronger, resilient, local food economy that meets their consumption needs.
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Vermont: NOFA is committed to continuing our support of direct markets in Vermont by building upon the foundation of providing a holistic suite of business and marketing services for direct market farmers and farmers markets and raising awareness about direct sales among consumers. Direct marketers need to develop critical business and marketing skills to be able to compete in a maturing local food marketplace and capitalize on evolving consumer values. NOFA will provide in-depth technical assistance, training, and resources to direct market farms and farmers markets to strengthen their skills. 

All of this important work collectively adds to the strength of farmers markets nationwide, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the funded projects with the National Center for Appropriate Technology and the Texas Center for Local Food. Find the full list of FMPP recipients here.

Local Food Promotion Program Grantees: 

  • Pinnacle Prevention, Arizona:  One of the primary barriers limiting the ability for local agriculture to scale in Arizona is the lack of infrastructure to support storage, aggregation, transportation, and distribution, and lack of facilitation of food chain coordination. The project aims to address expansion needs and barriers by implementing cost effective and streamlined transportation chains and to expand and cultivate new online marketing channels to improve operational efficiencies for the Arizona regional network of on-farm agriculture producers. 
  • Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, Arkansas: There is a widespread need for accessible training, technical assistance, and research to support the expansion and resilience of equitable regional value chains and to increase the competitiveness and viability of the businesses that comprise them. The Forging Value Chains project aims to increase the capacity of small/mid-size farms and food businesses to create collaborative value chain relationships for greater market opportunities, navigate wholesale marketing channels for improved financial viability, and adopt and implement a culture of quality and food safety for increased market access. 
  • FRESHFARM Markets, District of Columbia: FRESHFARM seeks to expand our innovative model of local food aggregation and distribution that creates new and diversified income streams for farmers while expanding consumer access to locally produced foods. The program will grow four-fold by expanding from Washington, DC to the greater DCMetro area, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.

Find the full list of LFPP recipients here.

Regional Food Systems Program Grantees: 

  • New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association, New Mexico: “Scaling Up New Mexico’s Value Chain Coordination (NM-VCC) Network” will strengthen successful public and private collaborations of New Mexico’s Value Chain Coordination Entities (VCCEs) in order to develop the long-term economic viability of the state’s agriculture producers, while providing increased consumer access to healthy, local food, especially for lower-income populations. 
  • Alaska Food Policy Council, Alaska: The Alaska Food Policy’s goal is to create a healthier, more secure, and resilient Alaska by improving our food system through advocacy, education, and connection. Our project aims to connect localized food system organizations to create a statewide network of “regional nodes.” Through direct facilitation, each node will be guided through a series of planning discussions, including node specific asset mapping to identify unique capacities for local food systems, while revealing barriers and system deficiencies.
  • Local Environmental Agriculture Project, Virginia: The Strong Farm and Food Future planning project will explore and build capacity for a regional food system in the Roanoke Valley of Southwest Virginia. The project’s goal is to collectively learn about and address the needs of sustainable farm development, local food distribution, and equitable food access, and develop a comprehensive approach to create a more resilient, socially just, and economically viable food system in this underserved region.

Find the full list of RFSP recipients here.

Congratulations to all the grant program recipients! We look forward to seeing and participating in the important work you are all doing to support farmers markets and strong, resilient food systems. 

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