Memphis is emerging as a metro region where rural and urban economic opportunities suggest the need for meaningful collaborative activities. Recently, USDA staff participated in a gathering of community development workshop in Memphis where rural leaders gathered to share challenges and successes with urban counterparts. The event was sponsored by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), the Delta Regional Authority, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.
Beginning in 2010, HUD began providing three-year Regional Planning grants to groups that were interested in developing long-range community plans that would help guide future federal investments in a more strategic manner. A number of those grants have been provided to communities in the Mississippi Delta region, and last week’s meeting gave the Delta Region grantees a chance to share successes and challenges of their efforts. Read more »
Fresh broccoli in bins at the Orange County Food Bank. With a Federal-State Marketing Improvement program grant, the California Association of Food Banks was able to dramatically expand its Farm to Family program and bring more nutrient-dense foods to area food banks. Photo courtesy Ron Ploof
Sometimes it can take a while to turn a good idea into a successful venture. At USDA, we understand the value of research, and by providing resources to get things started at the local level, we often see amazing results that have positive impact for farmers, agribusinesses and consumers across the country. Read more »
2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant will help expand existing efforts by the Fallon Small Farm Collaborative for create new market opportunities for Churchill County farmers, like the ones pictured above. Photo courtesy Fallon Farmers’ Collaborative
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the Specialty Crop Block Grant awards totaling $55 million dollars. These grants will fund over 748 initiatives across the United States and its territories, and help expand opportunities for local and regional farmers.
Specialty crops produced in the U.S. include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, and are often a key source of income for America’s farmers. Through this program, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service grants money to the state and territory for them to directly support projects creating new business opportunities, boosting efficiency and productivity, and improving food safety.
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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan (center, white jacket) buys produce at the Baltimore farmers market in Baltimore, MD. By supporting farmers markets and other businesses, Farmers Market Promotion Program funds have helped open new doors for farmers and ranchers all across the country.
Last Friday, I was honored to announce $9 million in new grants through USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). The program targets producers, cooperatives and organizations that market products directly to consumers – just one of the many marketing approaches that make American agriculture so successful. Read more »
Benjamin Taylor of Taylor’s Produce in Preston, Maryland loads a bin of sweet corn destined for the Maryland Food Bank. Taylor’s produce donated nearly seven thousand pounds of freshly picked produce to the Food Bank including sweet corn, squash and cucumbers.
Recently I had a great opportunity to attend a meeting of Maryland’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger. Led by Governor Martin O’Malley’s Office for Children, the Partnership “table” brings together state agencies, USDA, local non-profit organizations such as food banks, advocacy groups, and the private sector. Since November of 2008, the Partnership has focused its efforts on connecting individuals to federal nutrition programs and bridging the gap between eligibility and participation. Read more »
Must have a desire to help farmers reach new markets and to help businesses bring healthier options to local communities. Experience & qualifications should include some knowledge of local and direct marketing methods. Must be willing to devote 50-60 hours during the month of July to help score project proposals. See below for more detail.
The Farmers Market Promotion Program is a competitive grant process designed to help expand opportunities for farmers and bring healthy foods into more communities. The grants are administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), and aim to help farmers throughout the country. About $10 million is available this year to support direct-marketing projects like farmers markets, community supported agriculture, roadside stands and agritourism. Read more »