October 14, 2010
On Thursday, October 14, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the 2010 grants of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). The program awarded 77 grants in 34 states, amounting to $4,099,897 in funding.
The FMPP was first developed by NSAC in the lead up to the 2002 Farm Bill, and we have championed funding for the program ever since.
The grants awarded appear to be a fairly even mix of rural and urban projects.
The 2008 Farm Bill requires that no less than 10% of FMPP funds be used for facilitating electronic benefits transfer (EBT)-related projects. EBT allows consumers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP); the Women, Infants, and Children program; or the Farmers Market Nutrition Program to use their benefits at farmers markets. Approximately 30% of this year’s funds will go towards these projects, totaling more than $1.2 million, and funding both existing and new EBT projects.
In addition, projects planned in five self-identified urban “food deserts” were awarded funding, totaling over $273,000. This reflects both USDA’s and the administration’s priority of increasing access to fresh, healthful foods in these “food deserts” and thereby creating stronger and broader supply and distribution channels among producers serving these areas.
According to the USDA release, approximately 62% of the grantees will use the funds in part to recruit and train beginning, immigrant, and underserved farmers, and approximately 28% of the awards offer further professional development opportunities for existing farmers to “strengthen their business management skills, including training in risk management, certification, and good agricultural practices”.
Finally, according to USDA, 16 new direct markets will be created from the grants, and 28% of the grants will invest in value-added product development and distribution.
Our own quick analysis shows that over 60% of the grants were strictly for farmers markets, about 10% included a variety of direct marketing approaches including markets, CSAs, roadside stands, community kitchens, or just general direct marketing education, and another 28% were for general education, farm to hospital, senior centers, regional food promotion, food safety training, beginning farmer projects, and a range of other miscellaneous purposes.