NSAC's Blog

New USDA Awards to Build Local Food Systems and Food Security

October 2, 2015

On October 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced nearly $35 million in awards from three grant programs to support local and regional food systems, enhance the effectiveness of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) operations at farmers markets, and improve marketing opportunities for farms through state-based research and innovation.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement, noting that “each of the grants announced today targets a unique part of the growing market for local foods.” According to the USDA, local food sales have soared over the past several years, jumping from $5 billion in 2008 to nearly $12 billion in 2014.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program

A competitive grants program, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) was created through the expansion of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. The aim of the original FMPP program – supporting new and expanding direct producer-to-consumer outlets, such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and agritourism opportunities – continues and is joined by a second component of the program – Local Food Promotion  grants (LFP). This component of the program supports a wide spectrum of local and regional food enterprises, such as food hubs and local food processors, to help grow economic opportunities and income for small and mid-sized family farmers, increase consumer choice and access to fresh and healthy food, and accelerate rural economic development.

The original 2002 and 2008 Farm Bill program and the 2014 expansion were developed and championed by NSAC.

Over $25.2 million in grant awards are being made to 324 organizations throughout the country. The direct farmer-to-consumer marketing part of the program includes 164 awards and the local and regional food portion includes 160 awards.

NSAC applauds all the FMLFPP awardees and, in particular, we congratulate the six NSAC member groups who received FMLFPP awards, three of which are FMP awards and three of which are LFP awards:

FMP Awards to NSAC Members Groups

  • Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) in Helena, Montana, which received $100,000 to enhance the Abundant Montana Directory listings and their accessibility, develop a public calendar system for local food events, create a local food marketing campaign, research and collaborate on agritourism, and develop an online agritourism resource manual for producers.
  • Appalachian Sustainable Development (a member of the Central Appalachian Network) in Abingdon, VA, which received $99,643.39 to increase the visibility and viability of farmers’ markets and participating farmers in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia through a promotional campaign using social media, newspaper, television, and radio and facilitating a road show highlighting regional farmers.
  • Just Food in New York, NY, which received $100,000 to improve and expand services to a CSA network and provide training and technical assistance on launching a 501(c)(5) organization.
  • Wallace Center at Winrock International, in Arlington, VA, which received $100,000 to pilot an information technology solution with six food hubs currently certifying their participating growers under the USDA Group GAP Audit Program The platform will enable hubs to collect, review and share audit findings, food safety plans, and other materials necessary to meet buyer expectations and regulatory requirements.

LFP Awards to NSAC Members Groups

  • Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, in Gainesville, FL, which received $99,790 to establish a multi-weekday indoor farmers market, create a state-permitted commissary for producers to legally wash, package, and store agricultural products, and develop a food-based community education program.
  • Georgia Organics in Atlanta, GA, which received $100,000 to empower farmers’ market managers to replicate the My Market Club through marketing, training, and educational outreach.
  • Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc. (a member of the Central Appalachian Network) in Shepherdstown, WV, which received$99,020.00 to strengthen peer exchange networks within Central Appalachia, prototype new distribution models between West Virginia, Ohio and Southwest Virginia, and connect wholesale market channels with expanded supply and selection of local/regional projects.


A full list of the FMP awardees is available at this link.

A full list of the LFP awardees is available at this link.

Administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) at USDA, FMLFPP supports the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative which coordinates USDA’s support of local and regional food systems.

SNAP Farmers Market Support Grants

USDA also awarded $8.1 million in SNAP Farmers Market Support Grants funding for projects in 23 states. Administered by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the Farmers Market Support Grant program seeks to enhance the effectiveness of SNAP operations at farmers markets to help connect low-income families with fresh, healthy, local food options. From 2009 to 2014, SNAP redemptions at farmers markets have grown by 350 percent.

Funded activities include staff training and technical assistance, educational materials, and outreach and awareness raising among current SNAP participants that their benefits may be used to purchase healthy, fresh foods at these outlets.

NSAC congratulates all SNAP Farmers Market Support Grant awardees, including NSAC member group Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc., which received $250,000 for activities such as SNAP administration, technical assistance to farmers market managers, the development of strategic branding and promotional materials, and promotions for SNAP at markets through a variety of media and other channels.

A full list of the SNAP Farmers Market Support Grant awardees is available at this link.

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program

USDA’s bundle of grant award announcements also included $1 million in matching-grant funds through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).

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.

The matching funds from this round of awards will support 15 research projects in 14 states. Since 2009, this program has funded 142 projects totaling $8.6 million to explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.

NSAC congratulates all FSMIP Grant awardees, including NSAC member group Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, which is partnering with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and project lead Rutgers University, who received $99,803 to work together on researching consumer perceptions and behaviors in the Mid-Atlantic region to help growers in the organic market.

A full list of the FSMIP Grant awardees is available at this link.

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

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