USDA Funding Available
Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
On January 11, 2017, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced $26 million to fund local and regional food systems projects through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLPP is comprised of two sub programs that each have their own separate Requests for Applications, the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Foods Promotion Program (LFPP). This initiative supports a wide range of direct-to-consumer and local food marketing projects. An additional $1 million is available through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).
Program Details and Eligibility
The FMLFPP funds projects that increase consumption of and access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products and develop new local marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers. The program is open to applications from agricultural businesses and cooperatives; producer networks and associations; community supported agriculture networks and associations; nonprofit and public benefit corporations; for-profit agricultural business entities; economic development corporations; regional farmers’ market authorities; and local and tribal governments. At least 10% of funding is designated to projects that benefit communities located in areas of concentrated poverty with limited access to supermarkets, and projects that involve Promise Zone Lead Applicant Organizations. Applicants can submit proposals to both FMPP and LFPP and can accept one award from each program if granted. Applications must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov by 11:59 pm Eastern time on March 27, 2017.
Projects that FMPP funds must be related to producer-to-consumer direct marketing, including but not limited to domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities, and must benefit more than one producer or individual. Grant funds can not be used for production-related expenses or duplicate activities in a project funded by another Federal program, including FMLFPP. In addition, projects that are dependent on the purchase or lease-to-own purchase of a vehicle, a critical component not in place at the time of application submission, or the completion of another project or receipt of another grant are not eligible for funding. Award duration is 36 months and the expected project end date is September 29, 2020.
FMPP offers both Capacity Building and Community Development, Training, and Technical Assistance (CTA) projects. Capacity Building grants assist applicants in the development, improvement, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities; grant awards range from $50,000 - $250,000. CTA projects provide outreach, training, and technical assistance to farm and ranch operations for developing, improving, and expanding direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities; grant awards range from $250,000 - $500,000. There is no match requirement.
LFPP funded projects must support the development and expansion of local and regional food business enterprises that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products and must benefit more than one agricultural producer or individual. LFPP will not fund projects that purchase or collect food or services to donate to other entities and/or individuals or that promote local/regional food consumption in general (not related to a specific product, good or service). Grant funds can not be used for production-related expenses or duplicate activities in a project funded by another Federal program, including FMLFPP. In addition, projects that are dependent on the purchase or lease-to-own purchase of a vehicle, a critical component not in place at the time of application submission, or the completion of another project or receipt of another grant are not eligible for funding.
There are two types of project applications are accepted under LFPP—planning grants and implementation grants. Both types require a 25% match. Planning grants fund the planning stages of establishing, improving or expanding a Local and Regional Food Business Enterprise that increase domestic consumption of and access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products and develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets. Grant awards range from $25,000 - $100,000 and the award duration is up to 18 months, with an expected project completion date of March 31, 2018.
Implementation grants fund projects that establish a new local and regional food business enterprise or improve and expand an existing local or regional food business enterprise that increase domestic consumption of and access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products and develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets. Grant awards range from $100,000 - $500,000 and the award duration is up to 36 months, with an expected project completion date of September 29, 2020.
The Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program produces matching funds to state agencies to support agricultural research on marketing, transportation, and distribution. Research must aim to increase the efficiency and performance of agricultural markets. Though this program only funds state research, the results of this research may benefit local farmers. Producers and nonprofits may also partner with state agencies to conduct relevant research. Awards are typically $50,000 and the award duration is 1 year.
Training Webinars and Application Reviewers
AMS will host a webinar for potential FMPP and LFPP grant applicants on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and a teleconference for potential FSMIP grant applicants on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Register here.
AMS has also created a new guide, “What AMS Grant is Right for Me?”, which can help applicants determine which grant is most appropriate for their project.
Background and Northeast Grants
The FMLFPP is an expanded version of the Farmers Market Promotion Program, created in the 2002 Farm Bill to fund farmer direct-to-consumer marketing efforts. It was first funded through annual appropriations in 2006 and in 2008, it received mandatory Farm Bill funding of $33 million over 5 years. In 2014, the program was expanded to include local and regional food enterprises that are not direct-to-consumer, and funding increased to $30 million per year.
In total, the FMPP has awarded 879 grants totaling over $58 million since the 2008 Farm Bill. In the 2016 funding cycle, the NESAWG 12-state region received 15 out of 50 grants, totaling over $3.9 million. Since the 2008 Farm Bill, the NESAWG 12-state region has received 206 grants, totaling over $14.9 million. Last year, the LFPP funded 13 projects in the NESAWG region out of 53 total awards, totaling over $2.4 million.The LFPP has funded 405 projects since 2014, totaling over $43 million. Our region has received 108 of those grants, about $10.9 million.
Chesapeake Harvest, a project of the Easton Economic Development Corporation, received a 2016 LFPP grant to aid in their mission to help Eastern Shore farmers expand their market reach and increase the supply of healthy food in the region. According to Production Manager, Andy Andrews, "The LFPP program will enable us to assist growers through the USDA Harmonized GAP certification process through training and one-on-one assistance with each grower. We'll also be able to dramatically expand our efforts in marketing local produce thereby enabling local farms to access new markets and increase sales." Their ambitious plan includes leasing and staffing an aggregation/distribution facility, providing food safety technical assistance to 30 Eastern Shore farmers, and pursuing contracts with wholesale markets.
Other organizations in our region who received FMPP or LFPP grants include:
- Red Tomato, Plainville, MA: Building a Bridge: Achieving Scale For Farm‐Identified Wholesale Supply Chains
- Community Health Center of Franklin County, Greenfield, MA : (Im)Proving the CSA Model
- Rosemont Local Food Development Plan, Portland, ME: Value Chain Analysis to Support Increased Revenue for Maine
- CommonWealth Kitchen, Dorchester, MA: Farm to Institution Contract Manufacturing and Marketing Initiative
- Capital Roots, Troy, NY: The Growing Local Foods and Local Entrepreneurs Project: Planning for Commercial Kitchen/Incubator Space
USDA Funding Announcement
Farmers Market Promotion Program
Local Food Promotion Program
Federal State Marketing Improvement Program
2016 FMPP Report
Photo credit: Top: Local Food Marketplace, Bottom: Chesapeake Harvest: Sprout food delivery service receiving local produce from Chesapeake Harvest.