Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program


Building up local and regional food systems by expanding marketing opportunities 

Farmers and consumers alike benefit from improved access to fresh, healthy, local food. Farmer-to-consumer connection points (such as farmers markets and food hubs) create economic opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms, increase consumer choice and access to fresh and healthy food, and improve economic outcomes for rural and food producing communities. Building connections that translate into increased market opportunities for farmers and increased healthy food access for consumers, however, can take a considerable amount of work

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) is a competitive grants program that can help develop and build-out those connections by funding direct-to-consumer marketing strategies. FMLFPP also provides support for local and regional food business enterprises acting as intermediaries between producers and consumers.

Learn More About FMLFPP:

Program Basics

FMLFPP is an expanded version of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), a competitive grants program originally authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill with the aim of increasing and strengthening direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels. The program now also includes support for local and regional food business enterprises that act as intermediaries between producers and consumers by aggregating, storing, processing, and/or distributing locally or regionally produced food products to meet market demand.

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes FMLFPP as part of a new umbrella program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). However, FMLFPP will continue to be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and maintain its two subprograms: 1) the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and 2) the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). FMPP and LFPP issue two separate, but concurrent, Requests for Applications (RFAs) each year.

  • Farmers Market Promotion Program: About $11.75 million is available each year to assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic direct-to-consumer outlets like farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), roadside stands, agritourism, internet sales, and other forms of direct marketing. Direct marketing includes direct-to-retail, direct-to-restaurants and direct-to-institution marketing and sales. These grants can be used for market startup, operation, infrastructure, training and education, outreach, market analysis and planning, customer and producer surveys, vendor and customer recruitment, and new venue establishment. FMPP projects must demonstrate benefits to two or more farmers, producers, or farm vendors who produce and sell their own products directly to consumers through a common distribution channel. FMPP awards funding for two types of projects: “Capacity Building” and “Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance”.
  • Local Food Promotion Program: About $11.75 million is also available to assist in the development, improvement, or expansion of local and regional food business enterprises. Local or regional food business enterprises are organizations or business entities that function as intermediaries between producers (farmers or growers) and buyers by carrying out one or more local or regional food supply chain activities (e.g., aggregating, storing, processing, and/or distributing locally or regionally produced food products to meet local and regional market demand). Intermediated marketing channels include food hubs, aggregators, distributors, wholesalers, and processors, along with value-added production enterprises, such as shared-use kitchen or kitchen incubator operations. LFPP grants can be used for market research, feasibility studies, business planning, training and technical assistance, outreach and marketing, working capital, and non-construction infrastructure improvements or information technology systems. LFPP awards funding for two types of projects: “Planning” and “Implementation”.

The term “local or regional food” for the purposes of these grants is defined as a food product that is raised, produced, aggregated, stored, processed, and distributed in the locality or region where the final product is marketed to consumers. The total distance the product is transported must be within 400 miles from the origin of the product, or both the final market and the origin of the product must be within the same state, territory, or tribal land.

Food Safety is now an eligible activity for both FMPP and LFPP grants. As part of LAMP, FMLFPP can now provide limited financial assistance for expenses relating to costs incurred in obtaining food safety certification and making changes and upgrades to practices and equipment to improve food safety.

For both FMPP and LFPP projects, USDA gives priority to projects that either primarily serve low income/low food access communities (as defined by USDA in its ERS Food Access Research Atlas map); or to those projects that involve Promise Zone Lead Applicant Organizations.

A cash or in-kind match, in an amount equal to 25 percent of the total cost of the grant, is required for both FMPP and LFPP.

Eligibility

For both FMPP and LFPP projects, the following entities are eligible to apply: agricultural businesses; agricultural cooperatives; producer networks; producer associations; community supported agriculture (CSA) networks (a CSA comprised of a group of farms, and not just a single farm); CSA associations (a group that represents, assists, or serves a CSA or CSA network); local governments; nonprofit corporations; public benefit corporations; economic development corporations; food councils; regional farmers market authorities; and tribal governments.

The Program in Action

Since 2006, FMLFPP has provided over $163 million in grant awards to over 1,500 organizations in all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.

The following are examples of ways in which organizations have utilized FMPP:

  • California Certified Organic Farmers, in partnership with Kitchen Table Advisors and the CA Alliance of Farmers Markets, received approximately $480,000 to help small to mid-scale farmers, organic farmers, and small-scale Latino farmers facing increasing challenges in maintaining and growing profitable farm operations. A saturated and increasingly competitive farmers market economy necessitates innovative thinking to keep up with consumer demands on farm product accessibility.
  • 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. The Farmers Market Support program provides 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.

The following are examples of ways in which organizations have utilized LFPP:

  • The Common Market Texas, received approximately $500,000 to increase consumption of healthy local and regional foods and improve the financial and operational viability of Texas farms. The Common Market Texas has partnered with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), the premier technical assistance provider to farmers throughout Texas, on this project to train farmers for wholesale markets.
  • 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.
  • Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove, Oregon received almost $350,000 to expand markets for Latino farmers. The project prioritizes the production of culturally appropriate foods through Adelante Mujeres’ distributor and an associated Community Supported Agriculture Program, and supports local Latino farmer capacity building efforts with focus on providing high quality produce that meets food safety guidelines.

Read more about recent FMLFPP awardees by viewing a list of previous FMPP and LFPP Awards:

How to Apply and Program Resources

Each year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) publishes an RFA in the Federal Register and solicits applications from eligible organizations. There is no set timeframe for when the RFA is released, though AMS tries to get it published during the first quarter of each calendar year. Each RFA typically gives applicants around 60-90 days to prepare and submit their applications for grant funding.

More information about applying for AMS grants, including FMLFPP, is available through the AMS website. Also, be sure to check out NSAC’s Local and Regional Food Systems Blog to get up to date information on the latest RFA and awards.

To learn more about FMLFPP and other USDA programs helping to develop and expand local and regional marketing opportunities for farmers, check out the following resources:

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

NSAC has championed FMLFPP and its predecessor program, FMPP, for over a decade. NSAC advocated for the creation of FMPP in the 2002 Farm Bill, but the program was not launched until 2006 when the program first received funding through annual appropriations process.

In the 2008 Farm Bill, NSAC helped secure first-time mandatory funding for FMPP at $33 million over 5 years. NSAC also helped to ensure that important policy changes to FMPP were made, including expanding the type of projects and entities eligible for funding.

The 2014 Farm Bill expanded FMPP into FMLFPP by broadening the program’s authority to provide grants for local and regional food enterprises that are not direct producer-to-consumer markets, but instead act as intermediaries between producers and consumers. FMLFPP also supports direct-to-consumer marketing channels like farmers markets and CSAs. The 2014 Farm Bill also increased funding for FMLFPP from $10 million per year in the final years of the 2008 Farm Bill, to $30 million per year.

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized FMLFPP through a new umbrella program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), combining FMFLPP with the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG). Although FMFLPP has permanent mandatory funding as part of LAMP – a major victory for NSAC and our allies in the local/regional food community – FMLFPP itself actually receives less annual funding than it did under the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill provides LAMP with $50 million in mandatory funding per year, of which $23.5 million is reserved for FMLFPP, $17.5 million for VAPG, $5 million for a new Regional Partnership Program, and $4 million for outreach, evaluation and administrative expenses.

Even as a part of LAMP, FMLFPP’s mission, grant priorities and activities are expected to remain largely as they were during the 2014 Farm Bill – with a few notable changes:

  • A cash or in-kind match, in an amount equal to 25 percent of the total cost of the grant, is required for both FMPP and LFPP (under the 2014 farm bill the 25 percent match only applied to LFPP projects).
  • The 25 percent matching requirement is calculated based on the size of the FMPP or LFPP grant, not the total project cost (the previous farm bill required the 25 percent match to be of the total project cost, not total grant, which caused considerable of confusion for applicants).
  • Direct-to-retail, direct-to-restaurants and direct-to-institution marketing and sales are now considered part of direct producer-to-consumer marketing efforts and therefore eligible for assistance through FMPP.
  • Food Safety is now an eligible activity for both FMPP and LFPP grants.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total Farm Bill Mandatory Funding (in millions)
2019 $23.5
2020 $23.5
2021 $23.5
2022 $23.5
2023 $23.5
5 yr total $117.5
10 yr total $235

Please note: The funding levels in the chart above show the amount of mandatory funding reserved by the 2018 Farm Bill for this program to be provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.  However, Congress does at times pass subsequent appropriations legislation that caps the funding level for a particular year for a particular program at less than provided by the farm bill in order to use the resulting savings to fund a different program.  Therefore, despite its “mandatory” status, the funding level for a given year could be less than the farm bill dictates should the Appropriations Committees decide to raid the farm bill to fund other programs under its jurisdiction. In addition, FMLFPP is subject to automatic cuts as part of an annual sequestration process established by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

For the most current information on program funding levels, please see NSAC’s Annual Appropriations Chart.

Authorizing Language

Section 10102 of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 amends subtitle A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.) by adding Section 210A Local Agriculture Market Program.


Last updated in April 2019