December 18, 2019
When consumers connect with farmers from their region, they not only get access to the freshest fruits, vegetables, and value-added goods, they also help to drive economic opportunity in rural and food producing communities. Developing the farm to fork supply chains that make those connections possible, however, is no small task. In order to help farmers better connect with local/regional consumers and markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers competitive grant support through its Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLFPP funds direct-to-consumer marketing strategies and also provides support for local and regional food business enterprises (such as food hubs) acting as intermediaries between producers and consumers.
Last week, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) awarded $23.5 million in grant funding to support 91 local food projects for fiscal year (FY) 2019.
For administrative purposes, FMLFPP is divided into two subprograms: the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). This week’s announcement included 49 FMPP awards and 42 LFPP awards; each awarded $11.75 million.
FMPP supports projects such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, roadside stands, pick-your own operations, and agritourism. LFPP’s focus is on processing, distribution, aggregation, storage, and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products sold through intermediated marketing channels.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is pleased to report that nine of our member organizations received or are partnering on FMLFPP grants this cycle.
Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (MFFM), Maine – will use $160,000 to pilot “Workplace to Market” partnerships statewide. These partnerships will introduce thousands of working-age Mainers to farmers’ markets through incentives provided by their places of work. The activities of markets across Maine will be monitored and captured in a toolkit publication that will serve as a resource for markets across the country seeking to leverage similar partnerships in their communities.
“The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets is thrilled to receive funding through USDA’s Farmers’ Market Promotion Program,” said Jimmy DeBiasi, Director of Programs at MFFM. “This project will boost farmer sales and grow the customer base of local shoppers at farmers’ markets through marketing strategies that partner markets with local workplaces. The Workplace to Market campaign will cultivate a new generation of working-age Mainers to connect with their local farmers and become regular farmers’ market shoppers.”
Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), Michigan – will use $362,000 to promote farmers markets across Michigan. Their statewide outreach campaign will include website upgrades, print advertisements, promotional videos, social media, publications in state rest areas, and key partnerships to expand reach. Robust data collection across 20-50 markets in the state will help evaluate the project’s impact.
“The Michigan Farmers Market Association is very excited to have been awarded a grant from the Farmers Market Promotion Program,” said Amanda Shreve, Executive Director at MIFMA. “This funding will expand consumer awareness of, attendance, and purchasing at Michigan’s 300 farmers markets. The project will include a statewide outreach campaign and a robust data collection plan to document and assess the impact on farmers markets throughout our state.”
Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), California – will use $360,886 to facilitate connections between three regional food hubs (Food Commons Fresno, Next Generation, and MendoLake Food Hub) and the schools they serve. The project will:
CAFF will share procurement best practices and develop resources from their work with three regional food hubs via the California Food Hub Network to promote replication.
“While many larger school districts are able to work with large-scale distributors to increase local food options, many smaller schools aren’t able to access these forward-thinking distributors due to scale,” said Michelle Wyler, Managing Director of Farm to Market at CAFF. “CAFF is thrilled to be able to work closely with a few regional food hubs and smaller schools to make local purchasing a reality for them too.”
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), Massachusetts – will use $497,800 to provide technical assistance and marketing support to 115 local food enterprises in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. CISA will focus on development, marketing and sales of value-added products and expanding local aggregation. Partnerships with All Farmers and Gardening the Community are also a critical component of this project. Through these partnerships, the project will support enterprises led by farmers of color and serve low-income, low access communities.
“CISA is thrilled to receive funding through USDA’s Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program to support over 100 local food enterprises in our region in Massachusetts,” said Executive Director Philip Korman. “This project will provide a clear road map for new value-added products. And it will strengthen our partnerships with All Farmers and Gardening the Community to support both farmers of color and the communities they serve by increasing access to local fruits and vegetables.”
National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), National – will use $69,349 to convene farmers, intermediary processors, and procurement and sustainability teams from companies with agricultural supply chains to tackle the barriers that limit direct corporate procurement from small independent farms. NYFC hopes that this dialogue will create opportunities for the sector to improve sourcing practices with consideration of young farmers and ranchers as well as clarify the pathways for growing businesses to access these supply chains.
“Companies that source key ingredients from farms must be focused on supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers if they want to ensure supply chain continuity,” said Martin Lemos, Co-Director of National Young Farmers Coalition. “At the same time, we know many young and beginning farmers’ are actively seeking larger markets that will allow them to thoughtfully scale their operations. This project will help us connect buyers and farmers to help both young farmers scale up to meet this demand and support companies with strategies to build the next generation of their agricultural supply chain.”
Nebraska Extension in partnership with Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska (BFBL) and NSAC member Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) will use $207,697 to implement a capacity building program. Their project will equip market managers and vendors with the skills, knowledge and resources to grow their markets. Nebraska Extension and their partners hope their work will lead to to increased sales for Nebraska producers, greater access to healthy, local agricultural products for Nebraska consumers, and vibrant markets that contribute to the vitality of rural communities. The project work with 30 farmers markets in Nebraska to adopt best practices developed by the project team.
“Nebraska Extension is excited to partner with Center for Rural Affairs, Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska and others to build capacity at farmers markets across the state,” said Ben McShane-Jewell, Extension Educator. “Doing so will create new business opportunities for producers in Nebraska wanting to sell locally and for consumers seeking fresh, healthy foods. Farmers markets are important to the vitality of rural communities; with more than 100 in Nebraska, our farmers market network is growing. This project will enhance markets in Nebraska by working with market managers and vendors to develop best practices, engage underserved audiences and ensure that the markets have the resources and support they need to be successful.”
Farmshare Austin in partnership with NSAC member Sustainable Food Center (SFC) will use $154,138 to improve access to fresh, healthy, affordable foods in Austin and Travis County by bringing healthy food into neighborhoods experiencing economic and geographic barriers. Farmshare Austin’s Fresh for Less Mobile Markets connect consumers to local producers by sourcing, aggregating and marketing local produce – along with healthy grocery staples – directly to customers. The markets currently operate seven sites; they will expand to 14 in 2020 to meet demonstrated need.
Portland Area CSA Coalition (PACSAC) in partnership with NSAC member Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems at Oregon State University will use $249,170 to study CSA markets in the Portland region. The project will analyze markets both from the farmer and the consumer perspective in order to understand the attributes that drive CSA sales. Information gathered from this study will inform PACSAC’s future outreach strategies, and can be used by farms to design CSA programs suited to current market demands.
Indie-Peasant Enterprises in partnership with Rural Action (affiliated with NSAC member Central Appalachian Network) will use $67,300 to develop a viable growth plan that doubles Ohio-grown bean and grain product sales over the next three to four years. The project will research, analyze, and model the feasibility and return on investment for at least four distinct growth approaches, considered both comparatively and together as complimentary stages in the comprehensive growth strategy for Shagbark Seed & Mill.
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 2014 Farm Bill expanded FMPP into FMLFPP to include 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 reauthorized FMLFPP as part of a new umbrella program called the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), a program which NSAC championed. As a subprogram of LAMP, FMLFPP now has permanent mandatory funding, as does LAMP’s other subprogram, the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. LAMP will also soon introduce a Regional Food Systems Partnership Program, for which we expect the first round of funding to be announced in calendar year 2020.