NSAC's Blog

USDA Announces 2012 Farmers Market Promotion Program Awards

September 21, 2012

Today USDA announced the recipients of this year’s Farmers Market Promotion Program awards.  The 2012 awards span 131 projects in 39 States and total over $9 million in funding.  The full list of projects can be found here.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) aims to increase and strengthen direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels.  Through a competitive grants application process, FMPP funds marketing proposals not only for farmers markets but also for community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, roadside stands, agritourism, and other direct marketing strategies.

Within FMPP, there is a minimum funding set-aside of 10 percent for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) projects.  EBT is the mechanism by which participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, receive monthly benefits.  The FMPP projects facilitate the participation of SNAP recipients at farmers markets and CSAs.

The program boosts farm income and stimulates local economic development while increasing consumer choice and access to healthy food.  FMPP was first authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, based directly on a proposal by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition that was championed by then Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA).  Since 2006, the program has invested over $32 million in new and expanded markets for local and regional food.

In announcing the awards, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan highlighted the fact that:

  • 10 projects will help hospitals and other health care providers improve eating habits through direct marketing of fresh local produce;
  • 13 projects will directly assist new and beginning farmers;
  • 17 projects will support either online or mobile markets that are particularly important in rural areas; and
  • 12 tribal, Latino, or immigrant farmer projects.

By our tabulations, the 2012 FMPP awards also include funding for:

  • 24 new farmers markets
  • 15 community supported agriculture and farm stand projects
  • 20 training and outreach projects
  • 5 community kitchen or processing projects
  • 7 new food hubs
  • 10 new EBT projects, 9 expansions of existing EBT projects, and 3 both new and existing.

There was also a reasonably equitable regional distribution:

  • 33 awards in the north central region
  • 39 awards in the southern region
  • 34 awards in the western region
  • 24 awards in the northeastern region

We are pleased to announce that several NSAC member organizations are 2012 grant award recipients.

  • Georgia Organics received an award to promote six farmers markets including outreach to low income individuals and communities.
  • Angelic Organics Learning Center in Illinois received a grant to develop two farmers markets, two farm stands, and a CSA in food desert areas and to undertake a food aggregation pilot.
  • Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture will use its award to expand direct marketing throughout Pennsylvania through its Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign.

Congratulations to all three organizations!

FMPP and the Farm Bill

As a farm bill program, FMPP for 2013 and beyond is currently being held hostage by congressional inaction on the 2012 Farm Bill.  Congress is leaving Washington this weekend and will not be back until after the elections, when it will return for a short lame duck session.  Along with most other farm groups, NSAC is pushing for final consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill during the lame duck session.

Under the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed farm bills that are pending before Congress, the FMPP would become known in the future as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and its scope would be expanded to also include local food sales to retailers and institutions.

In addition, under the proposed new program, the set-aside for EBT is removed.  In its place, within the SNAP program, the bills include a provision that would authorize the Secretary to exempt farmers markets from covering the costs of EBT equipment.  This will be a huge step forward, providing more universal coverage.  Additionally, earlier this year, USDA released $4 million to cover EBT costs at farmers markets.  It is expected that this funding will continue in subsequent Fiscal Years.

To find out what you can do to help programs like FMPP continue, visit our take action page.


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

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