In 2010, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture developed a plan to help local growers find new opportunities to bring their fresh, healthy food to consumers and markets within the state. They partnered with Rutgers University’s Food Innovation Center and the New Jersey Department of Family and Community Health Sciences to create healthy recipes from locally grown ingredients that were also tasty and affordable options for school menus.
Using local high school students as taste-testers, they tried out their new locally-grown school lunch items. They hope that the study will eventually result in a new market for local farms to sell to New Jersey schools.
This New Jersey program is just one example of the many diverse projects funded by the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP). The grant program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed to boost market research projects funded by state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations and other state agencies.
Since 1976, FSMIP has provided $47.7 million in matching grants to support over 925 state-funded market research projects primarily focused on the marketing, transportation and/or distribution of U.S. agricultural products domestically and internationally.
The broad range of projects support everything from agricultural training, forestry product market export analysis, environmental benefits, beef product safety and traceability, distribution strategies, farm-to-school efforts, economic development and more. Last year, we funded 25 projects in 19 states. This grant program is one of the many ways USDA supports the American agricultural economy and communities.
Proposals for 2012 funding are due by March 23, 2012. States interested in applying for FSMIP matching grants funds should read the program guideline information and other application materials on our website before applying. Once you’re familiar with the process and guidelines, you can submit proposals through grants.gov or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.