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, 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: $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: An additional $15 million is 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 an intermediary 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 projects from the low income and low food access priority category.

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 (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

 As a newly expanded program, FMLFPP will be providing funding for intermediated marketing channels for the first time starting with the Fiscal Year 2014 grant cycle. According to a 2013 survey report by NSAC member organization Farmers Market Coalition, since 2006, FMLFPP’s predecessor program – the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program – has invested $32.4 million to support 575 projects that have expanded direct-to-consumer marketing opportunities across all 50 states.

The Farmers Market Coalition’s 2013 report noted that FMPP grants yielded substantial agricultural and economic impacts, with 81 percent of grantees surveyed reporting an increase in the diversity of local farm products available since their FMPP award began, and an average 34 percent increase in the number of participating agricultural producers.  Additionally, grantees also reported an average 47 percent increase in customer visitor counts, with 94 percent experiencing a noticeable increase in the number of first-time customers.

Some of the ways FMPP grants have been used include:

  • buying equipment and infrastructure to establish a new farmers market
  • training farmers in direct sales and marketing of value-added products
  • developing and operating a mobile farmers market
  • building an online direct-marketing website to take customer orders
  • hiring a market manager and promoting the market through an advertising campaign
  • making improvements to storage and transportation capacity
  • increasing the number of market days and recruiting more vendors

Read more about how FMPP has helped provide new and expanded marketing opportunities for farmers:

How to Apply and Program Resources

Previously, for FMPP, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released a Request for Applications (RFA), typically in the spring. Applicants were typically given 45 days to complete and submit their application to USDA. As FY 2014 is the first year that AMS has released a Request for Application for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, it is not yet clear in which season the RFA will be released on a regular basis. For FY 2014, the RFA was released in May and due in June, with approximately 45 days for applicants to complete and submit their applications to USDA.

In FY 2014, AMS issued two separate RFAs, one for the direct marketing portion of the program and one for the local and regional food portion of the program. It is not yet clear whether there will be a single RFA in future years or if they will continue to issue two separate RFAs.

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:

Archived webinars from USDA on how to apply for FMLFPP are available at the following pages:

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 in May 2014.

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.