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Millions Awarded for Local Food and Direct Market Projects

September 29, 2016


market vendor with produce

Photo credit: NSAC

Local and regional food systems are expanding nationwide; supporting job growth in agriculture, revitalized rural and urban communities and increased consumer access to healthy sustainable local food and farm products.

Developing markets for local and regionally produced food – building connections between farmers and consumers is no small task. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), a farm bill program that provides grants annually on a competitive basis for a wide spectrum of direct-to-consumer and local and regional food marketing projects.

This week the USDA awarded over $26 million in FMLFPP grants to nonprofits, community based organizations, farmer co-ops, private businesses and local governments for more than 100 direct-to-consumer and local food marketing projects.

For administrative purposes FMLFPP is divided into two sub-programs: 1) the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). This week’s announcement included 50 FMPP awards totaling more than $13.4 million and 52 LFPP awards totaling more than $13.4 million.

The FMPP subprogram supports projects such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, roadside stands, pick-your own operations and agritourism. LFPP‘s focus is on processing, distribution, aggregation, storage and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products sold through intermediated marketing channels.

Over the past decade, local and regional food systems have experienced tremendous growth. Since 2006 farmers markets have shot up by 180 percent, regional food hubs have expanded by 288 percent, in part due to investments made by the USDA through programs like FMLFPP.

We are pleased to report that five National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) member organizations received FMPP project awards and one member received an LFPP project award.

Food Hub Project

NSAC member Wallace Center at Winrock International, received a $500,000 award to support the expansion of regional food economies through a number of risk mitigation strategies aimed at helping growers and food businesses participate in and develop effective supply chains.

“The Mitigating Risk in Food Value Chains program will reduce the risk of business operations for local producers, food hubs, and other Good Food entrepreneurs nationwide by providing accessible and relevant technical assistance and supporting the expansion of peer practitioner support networks,” said Wallace Center Director John Fisk.

With LFPP support Wallace Center’s Mitigating Risk in Food Value Chains project will provide capacity building training and technical assistance to start-up food hubs, support the increased financial management capacity for existing food hubs, continue their food hub benchmark work to develop national baseline data, and support the effective use of USDA’s new Group GAP Audit program as marketing and risk mitigation strategy.

While Wallace Center was the only NSAC member to receive an LFFP award, the following LFPP awards are among the many noteworthy projects:

  • Mighty Fine Poultry Processing, LLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan received $100,000 to address the lack of local processing facilities that serve independent producers and a lack of associated aggregation, storage, and distribution infrastructure by developing replicable plans and feasibility studies for a combined USDA-certified poultry processing, aggregation, storage and distribution facility.
  • Red Tomato, Inc in Plainville, Massachusetts received nearly $500,000 to develop a warehouse cross dock program to bridge the transition from small-scale delivery logistics to large scale efficiency through implementing a multi-scale logistics model, farm-identified marketing program and building the capacity and market readiness of regional producers.
  • Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove, Oregon received almost $350,000 to expand markets for Latino farmers with an emphasis on culturally appropriate foods through Adelante Mujeres distributor and an associated Community Supported Agriculture Program, by supporting local Latino farmer capacity building efforts with focus on providing high quality produce that meets food safety guidelines.

FMPP Awards to NSAC Members

The following NSAC member organizations received direct marketing project awards:

  • Farmers Market Coalition received just under $500,000 to support data collection and training associated with helping farmers markets maintain and expand their customer base through targeted data-driven messaging and promotional campaigns at the local, state and national levels.
  • Community Farm Alliance in Berea, Kentucky received nearly $500,000 to expand their Farmers Market Support program into a statewide program; providing one-on-one and group business/organization development assistance, training and assistance to help markets increase sales, and the development of networking spaces and systems to facilitate resource and information sharing between farmers markets.
  • National Center for Appropriate Technology in Butte, Montana received over $210,000 to develop a Market Resource Network aimed at increasing the capacity among Montana farmers markets via regional conference, webinars, manuals, networking and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. The project includes a focus on improving low income local food access in Montana by helping farmers markets and vendors build the capacity to accept SNAP benefits and other farmers market nutrition programs.
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont in Richmond, Vermont received nearly $500,000 to bolster the economic viability of Vermont’s direct-to-consumer markets by increasing farmers and farmers market capacity to assess, analyze and improve their direct markets, and by increasing consumer awareness about direct-to-consumer market opportunities and the benefits of increased direct-to-consumer sales.
  • West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition in Fayetteville, West Virginia received just over $450,000 to work collaboratively with academic, nonprofit and community partners to develop and launch a statewide marketing campaign branded, “I Grow West Virginia,” that seeks to increase consumer awareness about of local markets and community supported agriculture and encourage increased purchases of locally grown food.

A full list of the FY16 FMPP awards can be found here. A full list of the FY16 LFFP awards can be found here. Learn more about the FMLFPP grant program and additional grant opportunities by visiting the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s webpage here. 

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Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access


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