NSAC's Blog

USDA announces another year of critical local food funding

December 20, 2022

Photo credit: USDA

USDA recently announced the 2022 Regional Food System Partnership and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion program awards, totaling $64 million through 185 grants to bolster local and regional food economies across the country. In this post, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is thrilled to highlight fourteen NSAC members that were awarded a grant this year. 

The 2018 Farm Bill offered an opportunity for significant investments in local and regional food systems, namely through the creation of the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP). The program comprises three distinct competitive grant programs that fund organizations playing critical roles in promoting a thriving local food economy: the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG), and the Regional Food System Partnership Program (RFSPP). While investments have reached all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, each project has their own unique impact with often multiplying effects.

FMLFPP funds activities that support the infrastructure and community networks required for successful local markets. Historically known for providing critical startup and marketing funds for farmers markets, the program has responded to the growing demand for local and regional food and now provides annual funding for a variety of models including retail, aggregation and distribution, and processing. Four NSAC member organizations highlight the breadth of FMLFPP’s impact in strengthening local markets through either planning, implementation, or farm to institution awards. 

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association’s Local Food Promotion award will enable them to implement the BOLD PLAN (Beginning, Organic, Latino, Diversified Producers Locally Access New markets) in Salinas, CA. ALBA will deliver its updated marketing curriculum to over 100 Latino-owned organic start-up farms to enhance farmers’ readiness to enter markets. Through an expanded partnership with for-profit food hub – Coke Farm – and community partners – Blue Zones Project and Slow Money Monterey Bay – these farmers will gain access to new clientele and streamlined delivery logistics. 

Marbleseed’s Local Food Promotion planning award will fund “Pasture, Process, Plenty” conversations across Northwest Wisconsin and a local meat supply chain feasibility study. “Pasture, Process, Plenty” conversations will be centered on the big opportunity to create small, localized supply chains from farm to consumer that focus on equity and principles of a solidarity economy. Outcomes will include a detailed business model, a necessary legal structure, and capital to actualize the plan, as well as collaboration with state agencies to address any regulatory barriers to implementation as a replicable model. 

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Farm to Institution award will build on existing work to facilitate direct-to-institution sourcing of fresh foods from local producers to the Omaha and Santee Sioux reservations in Nebraska. The Center will provide training and technical assistance through guides, webinars, and small business coaching, to serve both farmers and institutions. Funding will also support the creation of the first Nebraska Intertribal Food Council to focus on improving food security. 

Kansas Rural Center (KRC) will collaborate with Common Ground Producers and Growers, Kansas Wesleyan University, and St. John’s Baptist Church of Salina to establish a new food hub and “food corridor” along Interstate 135 that bridges Wichita and Salina in central Kansas. Over the next three years KRC will work to bring farmers together to form a new food hub organization to assist with the aggregation and marketing of locally produced agricultural products and deliver them throughout the region. 

The newest of LAMP’s programs, the Regional Food System Partnership Program announced their first awards in 2020. As designed, the program funds the fundamental and often overlooked elements of relationship development between producers, intermediaries, and institutional markets.  

Nourish Colorado’s RFSP grant provides an opportunity to deepen their work in sustainable farm-to-institution programs in Southeast Colorado. In partnership with state agencies, institutional meal programs, Colorado State University, producers, and local partners, they will collect baseline local procurement data, develop collaborative purchasing models between institutions, and expand upon current training content. By focusing on testing and learning from these models in Southeast CO, Nourish CO aims to replicate them across the state.

The Value-Added Producer Grants provide equity investments to help farmers diversify their offerings and increase farm sales through “value-added” products like jams, pickles, cheese, and more. The program reduces barriers for expansion by providing funding for growers for both planning and operational activities. These investments often mitigate the risks often associated with new ventures by providing startup capital and can be leveraged with loan financing. The office of Rural Development manages this program independently from FMLFPP and RFSPP and those awards were not included in this announcement. 

Additional NSAC members who received awards in USDA’s recent announcement are listed below. A comprehensive list of awardees can be found in USDA’s October announcement.  

Regional Food System Partnership Program

Nourish Colorado 

Practical Farmers of Iowa 

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities Inc

Pinnacle Prevention Corp

Dakota Rural Action

Community Farm Alliance 

Local Food Promotion Program 

Land Stewardship Project 

Marbleseed (formerly Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service) 

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association

Florida Organic Growers

Kansas Rural Center 

West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition

Center for Rural Affairs 

Farmers Market Promotion Program 

Renewing the Countryside

Categories: Carousel, Local & Regional Food Systems

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