NSAC's Blog


Local Food and Farm to School Funding Available

March 16, 2015


On March 16th, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of $96.8 million in grants available through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for four programs supporting specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts:

  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
  • Farm to School Grant Program
  • Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
  • Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) provides grants on a competitive basis for a wide spectrum of direct-to-consumer and intermediated marketing projects. Today’s announcement marks the second round of funding available through this newly expanded program from the 2014 Farm Bill. The $30 million a year provided by the Farm Bill is divided equally between FMLFPP’s two subprograms: $13.3 million for direct marketing grants (Farmers Market Promotion Program or FMPP) and $13.3 million for intermediated marketing grants (Local Food Promotion Program or LFPP).

The FMPP subprogram supports projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands, and agritourism, while the LFPP subprogram supports the processing, distribution, aggregation, and storage of locally- or regionally-produced food products.

Applications for both the FMPP and LFPP subprograms must be submitted electronically through www.Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 14, 2015. FMPP awards range from $15,000 to $100,000; no matching funds are required. LFPP planning grants range from $5,000 to $25,000 and implementation grants from $25,000 to $100,000. In-kind or cash match is required equal to at least 25 percent of the total cost of the project.

The FMPP request for applications is available at this link.

The LFPP request for applications is available at this link.

The FMLFPP was developed and championed by NSAC and has evolved over the course of the farm bills in 2002, 2008, and 2014.

Farm to School Grant Program

The Farm to School Grant Program provides grants on a competitive basis to schools, nonprofits, state and local agencies, agricultural producers, and Indian tribal organizations to increase local food procurement for school meal programs and to expand educational activities on agriculture and food.

This year’s announcement provides $5 million in funding available for fiscal year 2016. Four different types of grant categories are available for this latest round of F2S funding available:

  • Planning grants are for schools or school districts just getting started on farm to school activities;
  • Implementation grants enable schools or school districts to expand or further develop existing farm to school programs;
  • Support service grants allow community partners such as non-profit entities, Indian tribal nations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers to provide support to schools in their efforts to bring local products into the cafeteria and for other farm to school activities;
  • Training grants are intended for eligible entities to support trainings that strengthen farm to school supply chains, or trainings that provide technical assistance in the area of local procurement, food safety, culinary education, and/or integration of agriculture‐based curriculum.
Planning grants range from $20,000 – $45,000, implementation grants and support service grants from $65,000 – $100,000, and training grants from $15,000 – $25,000 (state-focused) or from $25,00 – $50,000 (regional or national).

Applications for planning, implementation, and support service grants must be submitted electronically through www.Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, May 20, 2015.

Letters of intent and required attachments for training grants must be sent via email to farmtoschool@fns.usda.gov by 11:59 PM ET on April 30, 2015.

In addition to the $5 million in F2S grants, an additional $1 million is being made available in anticipation of an appropriation from Congress for volunteer service programs (such as AmeriCorps) to place volunteers in schools to work with school gardens, nutrition education,and lcoal food procurement activities. Those awards will be treated as support service grants.

The F2S request for applications is available at this link.

The Farm to School grant program was developed and championed by NSAC, the National Farm to School Network and other partner organizations.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program provides grants on an annual basis to assist state departments of agriculture in enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops. To receive grants, states must submit an application to AMS outlining how the grant funds would be spent. Over $63.2 million in SCBGP grants are allocated to U.S. States and territories each year based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. Often, states partner with nonprofit organizations, producer groups, and colleges and universities to develop their application and administer the program. States can use the block grants to supplement state-run specialty crop programs and/or make grants available for projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Applications from state departments of agriculture for the SCBG program must be submitted electronically through www.Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, July 8, 2015

Organizations or individuals interested in the SCBG program should contact their state department of agriculture for more information. A listing of state contacts and application due dates for state-run specialty crop block grants can be found at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/scbgp

The SCBG request for applications is available at this link.

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program

The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program is a competitive grants program designed to assist states with exploring new market opportunities and encouraging research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the U.S. marketing system. While only state agencies and institutions are eligible for grant awards, FSMIP funds can be used to conduct research projects in collaboration with non-profit organizations, community, or producer groups that solve practical marketing problems, including those facing small and medium-scale farmers. Approximately $1 million is available to fund applications under this year’s solicitation.

FSMIP applications must be submitted electronically through www.Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 14, 2015.

The FSMIP request for applications is available at this link.

Webinars and Training Events

The FNS Farm to School Team will provide a webinar on the F2S application process, on Wednesday, March 25 at 1:00 pm Eastern Time.

Click on this link for the presentation and dial 888-566-1192, passcode 5894178, for audio. No registration is required. The webinar will be recorded and the recording will be posted on this page as soon as it becomes available.

AMS plans to host a webinar for potential applicants to FMLFPP on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 11:00 am Eastern Time.  To register and log into the webinar, click on this link.    AMS advises webinar participants to test your computer for compatibility prior to the webinar.  For technical support, call 800.843.9166 or email: help@readytalk.com.

AMS also plans to host a teleconference about FSMIP on March 31, 2015 at 2:00pm Eastern time to review the recently announced Request for Applications and give participants a chance to ask questions. To participate in the teleconference, email: janise.zygmont@ams.usda.gov with the subject heading “FSMIP Teleconference” to receive call-in instructions.  A recording of the teleconference will be available on April 1, 2015 at the FSMIP website for anyone unable to participate in the teleconference.

In addition, there are many local training workshops being offered to help groups apply for FMLFPP. To find a workshop near you, check out the full list of FMLFPP trainings.


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


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