Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program


Building up local and regional food systems by expanding marketing opportunities 

Farmers and consumers both benefit from improved access to fresh, healthy, local food in communities across the country – but building more connections between farmers and consumers takes work. These important connections – including efforts like farmers markets and food hubs – help grow economic opportunities for small and mid-sized family farmers, increase consumer choice and access to fresh and healthy food, and improve rural livelihoods and communities. The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) is a competitive grants program that funds direct-to-consumer marketing strategies as well as 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.

Learn More About FMLFPP!

 

Program Basics

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is an expanded version of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), a competitive grants program authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill with the aim of increasing and strengthening direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels. FMLFPP is administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

FMLFPP funding is divided into two subprograms: one for direct marketing grants and one for intermediated marketing grants.

  • Direct Marketing Grants: Up to $15 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. 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. Additionally, 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.
  • Intermediated Marketing Grants: Up to $15 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, such as aggregating, storing, processing, and/or distributing locally or regionally produced food products to meet local and regional market demand. These 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. These 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.

The term “local or regional food” 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. 

For both types of 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. At least 10 percent of the total funding will be reserved for these types of projects.

Matching funds are not required for Direct Marketing Grants. A cash or in-kind match, in an amount equal to 25 percent of the total cost of the project, is required for Intermediated Marketing Grants.

Eligibility

For both direct and intermediated marketing 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;
  • regional farmers market authorities; and
  • tribal governments.

The Program in Action

In its first year of implementation in 2014, FMLFPP provided over $27 million in grant awards to 372 organizations in 49 states and the District of Columbia to expand marketing and promotion activities for local and regional farm and food projects. The awards for 2014 were separated into two lists: one for Farmers Market Promotion (FMP) grantees and one for Local Food Promotion (LFP) grantees.  In 2015, FMLFPP provided $25.2 million in grant awards to 324 organizations around the country.

Among the examples of FMP awardees and projects funded in 2015 are:

  • Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) in Helena, Montana, which received $100,000 to enhance the Abundant Montana Directory listings and their accessibility, develop a public calendar system for local food events, create a local food marketing campaign, research and collaborate on agritourism, and develop an online agritourism resource manual for producers.
  • Appalachian Sustainable Development (a member of the Central Appalachian Network) in Abingdon, VA, which received $99,643.39 to increase the visibility and viability of farmers’ markets and participating farmers in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia through a promotional campaign using social media, newspaper, television, and radio and facilitating a road show highlighting regional farmers.
  • Wallace Center at Winrock International, in Arlington, VA, which received $100,000 to pilot an information technology solution with six food hubs currently certifying their participating growers under the USDA Group GAP Audit Program The platform will enable hubs to collect, review and share audit findings, food safety plans, and other materials necessary to meet buyer expectations and regulatory requirements.

Among the examples of LFP awardees and projects funded in 2015 are:

  • Georgia Organics in Atlanta, GA, which received $100,000 to empower farmers’ market managers to replicate the My Market Club through marketing, training, and educational outreach.
  • Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, in Gainesville, FL, which received $99,790 to establish a multi-weekday indoor farmers market, create a state-permitted commissary for producers to legally wash, package, and store agricultural products, and develop a food-based community education program.

Read more about the recent FMLFPP awardees and how the program is providing new and expanded marketing opportunities for farmers as well as other relevant news and resources supporting local and regional food systems at NSAC’s Local and Regional Food Systems Blog.

How to Apply and Program Resources

On Wednesday March 9, 2016 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) announced the availability of over $26 million in grant funding to support the continued growth of this sector.

AMS’ announcement marks the third round of FMLFPP grant funding made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. FMLFPP and its predecessor program, FMPP, are programs that the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has championed for over a decade.

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 12, 2016.

To see examples of FY15 projects click here.

Changes in the FY16 RFA

AMS included NSAC’s recommendation to refine the focus of the program to better align with Congressional intent that it benefit farmers and ranchers. This was done through changes to Project Evaluation Criteria, which now makes it clearer that projects must benefit farmers and ranchers and provide evidence of existing community support and engagement.

Another noteworthy change was the inclusion in the RFA of a new requirement that all applicants must report on a set of standard performance measures. This requirement rightly reflects ongoing trends and best practices in the world of grant making.

NSAC is also pleased that the RFA has adopted the standard definition of “locally or regionally produced agricultural food product,” originally introduced in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Further highlights of and key changes specific to each FMLFPP subprograms are provided in the following subsections.

Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant:

FMPP offers two distinct types of grants: Capacity Building and Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance Projects. For Capacity Building projects, the minimum award is has been raised to $50,000 and the maximum awards has been raised to $250,000. For Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance projects the minimum grant award has increased to $250,000 and maximum award increased to $500,000. There is no matching requirement for the FMPP subprogram.

The award period duration for both FMPP Capacity Building projects and Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance projects is 36 months. Projects are expected to end by September 29, 2019.

Applicants may submit project proposals for both FMPP and LFPP. If selected for both awards, applicants may accept one FMPP and one LFPP award under the 2016 RFA.

More information about applying for FMPP, including the 2016 RFA, is available through the AMS website. 

Local Food Promotion Program:

LFPP offers Planning Grants and Implementation Grants. Similar to the FMPP subprogram, LFPP minimum and maximum award sizes have increased. For planning projects, the minimum is now $25,000 and the maximum $100,000. For Implementation projects, the minimum is now $100,000 and the maximum $500,000.

Unlike FMPP, LFPP does require a 25 percent cash or in-kind match. Unfortunately, the 2016 RFA does not include NSAC’s recommendation that the 25 percent cash or in-kind matching requirement be tied to the total grant amount, and not the total project cost.

Note that the award period durations for LFPP have changed ­– planning projects can now be for up to 18 months, terminating by March 31, 2018*, and Implementation projects can now be awarded for up to 36 months, terminating by September 29, 2019.

Applicants may submit project proposals for both FMPP and LFPP. If selected for both awards, applicants may accept one FMPP and one LFPP award under the 2016 RFA.

(*The official RFA has an error and incorrectly states March 31, 2017 as the end of the period for planning projects, USDA staff has confirmed that it is March 2018, not 2017.)

Webinars and Additional Information

In order to help prospective applicants navigate the process for applying for FMLFPP, AMS will host a webinar on March 24, 2016 at 2 p.m. EST. You can register for the webinar at this link. In addition, AMS will host a two webinars on applying for grants through www.grants.gov on March 22 (registration link) and March 29 (registration link), both at 2 p.m. EST.

Additional grant writing workshops will be held through the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance (AMSTA) Project. Please visit www.amsta.net to see if training is scheduled in your area.

More information about applying for AMS grants, including FMLFPP, is available through the AMS website.

Interested applicants should follow the instructions listed in the Request for Applications on the FMLFPP pages below. Registration is required in various systems prior to submitting one’s application and applications must be uploaded to www.grants.gov:

 

Program History, Funding, and Farm Bill Changes

FMLFPP and its predecessor program, FMPP, have been championed by NSAC 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 it first received funding through annual appropriations. In the 2008 Farm Bill, NSAC helped secure first time mandatory funding for FMPP in the amount of $33 million over 5 years. NSAC also helped to provide important policy changes to FMPP in the 2008 Farm Bill, including expanding the type of projects and entities eligible for funding.

The 2014 Farm Bill expanded FMPP into the current Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program by broadening the program’s authority to provide grants for local and regional food enterprises that are not direct producer-to-consumer markets, but act as intermediaries between producers and consumers, in addition to direct-to-consumer marketing channels like farmers markets and CSAs. The 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 first grant cycle for the newly expanded FMLFPP program was first announced in a Request for Applications (RFA) in May 2014, with awardees announced in September 2014.  The second grant cycle was announced in an RFA released in March 2015, with awardees announced in October 2015.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program Funding 

Fiscal Year Total Farm Bill Mandatory Funding (in millions)
2014 $30
2015 $30
2016 $30
2017 $30
2018 $30
5 yr total $150

Authorizing Language

Section 10003 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 amends Section 6 of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act 1976, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 3005.


Last updated in October 2015.