May 6, 2021
On May 5, 2021 USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of $76.9 million in funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLFPP has two subprograms – the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) – with a separate Request for Applications (RFA) for each subprogram. Both programs provide grants on a competitive basis for a wide variety of direct-to-consumer and local food marketing projects.
The deadline to apply for both grants is June 21, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EDT and all submissions must be done through grants.gov.
In the context of the ongoing pandemic and its impact on local food and regional food systems, AMS is implementing a number of important changes to both the FMPP and LFPP RFAs to provide applicants with as much flexibility as possible. As a result please be sure to read through the blog and the RFAs closely before applying as there are important changes to the grant amounts and cost-share requirements.
For more information about grant eligibility, the applications process and frequently asked questions visit the FMPP webpage and LFPP webpage. To see examples of FMLFPP projects funded in FY 2020, click here.
In previous years, AMS has hosted webinars for new applicants to help successfully navigate the application process and grants.gov. Currently there are no webinars scheduled but that is likely to change and once they have been announced, we will post them here so please check back.
The most important change included in this year’s RFA is the option to apply for an FMPP or LFPP grant with reduced cost share or matching funding requirements.
The increased pool of funding available for both FMPP and LFPP grants is the direct result of actions taken by Congress to provide increased funding for communities and farmers to respond to the COVID pandemic and begin rebuilding markets and supply chains. In addition to increased funding, Congress also reduced the cost-share funding requirements for FMPP and LFPP from 25% to 10%. However, due to some legal complexities related to the legislative process and sources of funding, the cost-share reduction does not apply uniformly to the full amount of funding available this year.
For $47 million of the available funding, there is a reduced minimum 10% cost-share requirement, while the remainder of the funding, just under $30 million, is available with the standard minimum 25% cost-share requirement. Applicants have the choice of submitting an application with a 10% or 25% match.
There is some benefit for applicants that can submit at the 25% match level because they will be eligible to compete for the entire pool of funding – $76.9 million. Meanwhile, applicants that apply at the 10% option will only be considered for the $47 million portion of the pool of funding. Cash or in/kind contributions are allowed in part or in full for both options.
In addition to being able to be considered for a larger pool of funding NSAC encourages prospective applicants to think about this as something akin to a sliding scale system. Applying for the grant with a 25% matching funds option for those organizations with greater resources is a way in which those organizations can concretely help to support more equitable outcomes within the program by making more funding available to those organizations and communities with greater need and fewer resources.
All applicants are highly encouraged to read the RFAs in their entirety, especially the “Cost Sharing and Matching” sections in light of the complexities discussed above.
As part of having an increased pool of funding for both FMPP and LFPP grants (for details on the funding history see below), AMS has instituted a number of changes to the maximum award sizes allowed for some of the project categories under both FMPP and LFPP.
The maximum award amount for FMPP Capacity Building projects has been increased from $250,000 to $500,000, and the maximum amount for FMPP Community Development Training and Technical Assistance projects has been increased from $500,000 to $750,000. The maximum award amount for LFPP Planning projects has been increased from $100,000 to $200,000 and maximum allowed award amount for LFPP Implementation projects has been increased from $500,000 to $750,000. With the higher grant maximums for these projects AMS intends to allow larger, experienced organizations to support smaller organizations through subawards and coordinated multi-group projects, which is another way in which well-resourced organizations can help to support more equitable outcomes within the program.
Another important and welcomed change is AMS is waiving the usual limitation regarding the number of awards current grant recipients can have at one time. Applicants who have active FMLFPP grants may be awarded an FMPP and an LFPP grant in this cycle, without the normal requirement to close out the current active grant(s).
FMPP supports projects that have a direct farmer-to-consumer focus, such as: farmers markets, CSA (i.e. community supported agriculture) programs, roadside farm stands, pick-your own operations, and agritourism.
As mentioned above, FMPP will continue to offer two distinct types of grants: 1) Capacity Building and 2) Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance Projects. For Capacity Building (CB) projects, the minimum award is $50,000 and the maximum award is $500,000. For Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance (CTA) projects, the minimum grant award is $250,000 and maximum award is $750,000.
The maximum duration for both FMPP CB projects and CTA projects is 36 months and projects are expected to begin on September 30, 2021 and be completed by September 29, 2024. The current RFA for FMPP can be found here, general information about FMPP can be found here.
LFPP seeks to develop and expand local and regional food business enterprises to increase access to locally produced foods and develop new market opportunities for local producers. LFPP supports projects including, but not limited to processing, distribution, aggregation, storage, and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products sold through intermediated marketing channels.
LFPP will continue to offer two types of grants: 1) Planning Grants and 2) Implementation Grants. Planning Grants provides a minimum award of $25,000 and a maximum of $200,000. Implementation Grants have a minimum award of $100,000 and a maximum of $750,000. LFPP requires a 25 percent match – either cash or in-kind – as does the FMPP.
Planning projects grants have an award period of up to 24 months and are expected to begin on September 30, 2021 and be completed by September 29, 2023. Implementation project grants can be awarded for up to 36 months and are expected to begin on September 30, 2021 and be completed by September 29, 2024. The current RFA for LFPP can be found here, and additional information about the program can be found here.
Every year, USDA seeks members of the public to serve on their grant peer review panels. The peer review panels help USDA review grant applications and recommend which projects should receive funding. Grant reviewers, typically people with academic, non-profit, and/or on the ground agriculture-related experience, help to ensure that the projects funded advance the goals of the program.
If you are interested in being part of this process and bringing your sustainable agriculture knowledge to the reviewers’ table, please consider volunteering for a FMLFPP peer review panel. AMS’s peer reviewer application sign-up portal can be found here. If your organization is not planning to apply orin the end does not submit an application, please consider signing up to be a peer reviewer.
The complicated nature of this funding cycle’s various cost-share requirements is the result of the funding coming from 3 separate pools of funding that have been pieced together for this larger funding opportunity.
The 2018 Farm Bill created the Local Agriculture Market Program, an umbrella program that includes permanent mandatory funding for FMLFPP – $23.5 million per year. That funding is also what folks in D.C. call “no-year money”, which means if for some reason all of the money doesn’t get awarded before the end of each fiscal year (September 29th) the USDA gets to roll the funding over for the next fiscal year, meaning they don’t lose the money.
In addition to mandatory funding, through the annual discretionary funding process, Congress provided FMLFPP with an additional $7.4 million for fiscal year (FY) 2021. This funding is “one-year money” which means that if it is not spent by the end of the fiscal year in which it was provided, it goes back to the U.S. Treasury and is lost to the program. This funding must be awarded by September 29, 2021 to avoid this fate.
The third tranche of funding was provided by Congress through the emergency appropriations bill the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020. That act provided FMLFPP with $47 million and the aforementioned reduced matching fund requirement. That funding is no-year money and can therefore be carried forward into future grant cycles.