Like all businesses, farms depend on good marketing to help sell their products. Investment in marketing research can help farmers identify new marketing channels, improve marketing systems, and increase the competiveness of a state’s agricultural products. For instance, marketing research can help lay the groundwork for a statewide system of food coops, local food sales to in-state hospitals and schools, or the placement of new farmers markets or food hubs.
The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) is a small competitive grants program designed to assist states with exploring new market opportunities through research and innovation. 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.
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FSMIP has been investing in marketing research for over 65 years and was first established in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. FSMIP funds marketing research for the following agricultural sectors:
FSMIP projects may deal with the barriers, challenges, or opportunities manifesting at any stage of the marketing chain including direct, wholesale, and retail markets. Some typical topic areas include:
Proposals may involve small, medium, or large-scale agricultural entities but should benefit multiple producers or agribusinesses. Proprietary proposals that benefit one business or individual will not be considered. Smaller-scale projects may serve as pilot projects or case studies useful as models for other states. FSMIP awards average about $50,000, and typically fund one-year projects, but longer projects of up to two years in duration are also considered.
State departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations, state universities, and other appropriate state agencies (such as state departments of forestry, natural resources, or energy) may apply for funding through FSMIP. State level applicants are encouraged to partner with industry groups, academics, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders in their proposed projects. Proposals should benefit multiple producers or businesses and multi-state proposals are eligible for funding.
Requests for FSMIP funds must be matched, dollar for dollar, from a non-federal source. The match funds may consist of cash or in-kind contributions, state appropriations, or resources contributed by the FSMIP project partners, such as nonprofits or farming organizations. Examples of matching resources commonly used in FSMIP projects include cash, state-appropriated funds, student tuition, partners’ in-kind time, meeting facilities if they would otherwise have to be rented, and travel expenses associated with the project. Program income cannot be contributed as a match.
Since 1999, FSMIP has provided approximately $20 million to 382 marketing improvement projects all across the country. FSMIP awards typically average about $60,000 each, and in recent years have ranged from $25,000 to $135,000.
FSMIP grants have been used to:
A full list of FSMIP Awarded Grants for Fiscal Years 1999-2016 can be found on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) site.
Organizations interested in developing a FSMIP proposal should contact their state department of agriculture or another appropriate state agency. Funds are allocated through one competitive grant cycle per year. The deadline for submitting applications is usually between January and March.
Read more about the program on the USDA’s FSMIP webpage.
FSMIP was first established and permanently authorized in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946. As a discretionary program, the funding level for FSMIP is determined each year by Congress in the annual agricultural appropriations bill. Since 1999, FSMIP has typically received approximately $1.2 million to $1.4 million per year. The chart below shows what the program has received in recent years. Future funding cannot be projected, as funding levels will be determined one year at a time by Congress.
Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program Funding
|Fiscal Year||Total Funding Available (in millions)|
Section 204(b) of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 1621-1627
Last updated in October 2016.