Every day, thousands of local farmers and ranchers work hard to ensure that their communities have access to a diverse range of fresh, healthy affordable foods. While nutritious food is a cornerstone of society’s physical health, a vibrant community also includes sustainable economic opportunities. By funding projects that support these goals, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program continues to make a difference for farmers at the local level.
The Farmers Market Promotion Program provides grants to eligible entities through a competitive application process (grants.gov). This year, nearly $10 million is available for farmers markets, community supported agriculture, road-side stands and other direct marketing operations to assist in expanding and promoting market opportunities for local farmers and ranchers. At the same time, efforts supported by these funds will help make nutritious, local foods more available in communities across the United States.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers these grants. In 2011, we funded nearly 150 projects, including a grant to Greensgrow Farms Neighborhood Markets in Camden, N.J. Because of organizations like Greensgrow Farms, Farmers Market Promotion Program funds are being used to make a difference. They are using the support from USDA to develop neighborhood farmers markets and establish a mobile food delivery system in low income areas of the city. Participating markets will accept electronic benefit transfer (EBT) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) transactions. They are also creating a food hub that will utilize refrigeration and processing equipment to keep foods fresh. Food hubs are innovative business models that bring farmers, distributors, aggregators, buyers and others in the supply chain together to ensure that the regional small and midsize producers get access to the infrastructure they need to grow their business.
This year, we’re looking for projects that will continue to expand healthy food choices for all Americans – especially in food deserts or low-income areas. Producer associations, nonprofit corporations, agricultural cooperatives, local governments, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, public benefit corporations and tribal governments committed to promoting the goals of the Farmers Market Promotion Program are encouraged to apply during this 2012 grant season.
Visit our website for program information and to find out more about previously funded projects. You can also visit grants.gov to learn about the application process or to apply for a grant. Your electronic application must be received by May 21, 2012.