Over the years, the way we look at food in America has changed and evolved. As people explore new tastes, adjust their diets and become more familiar with new ingredients, it is up to farmers and ranchers to stay innovative and responsive to new demands. Through my role at USDA I often visit with farmers and ranchers about what it takes to grow their businesses, to remain competitive in a global market, and how USDA is an important partner to help meet these challenges.
The (FSMIP), administered by USDA’s , is designed to support research projects that improve the marketing, transportation and distribution of U.S. agricultural products. FSMIP is a collaboration between Federal and State governments that puts matching funds from each towards projects that bring new opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
In 2013, craft brewing accounted for 14.3 percent of the U.S. beer market—that’s a value of about $14.3 billion. With the market growing 10.9 percent over the last decade, the interest in sourcing local ingredients for the brew has also grown. Looking to tap into the market potential, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources used a FSMIP grant to partner with the state Brewers Guild. They surveyed craft brewers to assess the variety, volume and value of local ingredients used in the brewing process.
Exploring how farmers and brewers can work together to match production and processing requirements, the project is giving Massachusetts growers more opportunities to sell their products. From pumpkin beer to fruit-infused brew, the combination of locally crafted beer and locally sourced ingredients is resulting in some creative partnerships… and some one-of-a-kind beers.
On the opposite end of the grain spectrum, some Americans are looking for alternatives to wheat and barley in their diets. Whether for health reasons or because they want a broader variety of carbohydrates, consumers are interested in more gluten-free options. For Colorado millet growers looking to expand their customer base, it became increasingly important to show consumers how this unique cereal crop can fit into a gluten-free or regular diet.
Using a FSMIP grant, the Colorado Department of Agriculture worked with a graduate nutrition class at Colorado State University in Fort Collins to develop gluten-free recipes using Colorado millet. The students created appetizers, desserts, snacks and entrees such as Black Bean and Millet Medley, Millet Stuffed Peppers and Spiced Millet Pudding. The project also brought the millet industry together, where they worked collectively to better understand and pursue opportunities in the export market.
These are just a couple of examples of the innovative and collaborative spirit inherent to FSMIP projects. USDA will continue to work with states and communities across the country to establish and implement innovative marketing programs that have a positive, lasting effect for states, communities and rural America.