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USDA announces grant funding and new resources available for local and regional food systems development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of approximately $26 million for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) which aims to help local and regional food entities develop, coordinate, and expand producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets, and local food enterprises. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is accepting applications for the grant program until May 14, 2024. Additionally, AMS has added to the suite of resources available to support communities and practitioners in local and regional food systems development.

"The Local Agriculture Market Program funnels funding directly to projects in local and regional food systems where farmers are able to retain more of the food system dollar allowing their communities to prosper," said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt. "This year, we are also offering new tools to help stakeholders navigate USDA programs for local and regional food systems, that also showcase the significant impacts of those investments."

LAMP funds projects that intend to increase the availability of locally grown food and develop new markets for local and regional food system stakeholders, farmers markets, and food hubs. LAMP includes the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and the Regional Food System Partnerships.

Farmers market promotion program and local food promotion program
Two of LAMP's funding opportunities, the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program, seek to develop, coordinate, and expand local and regional food systems. The Farmers Market Promotion Program supports producer-to-consumer markets such as farmers markets, roadside stands, agritourism activities, community-supported agriculture programs, and online sales. Local Food Promotion Program grants support to local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer-to-consumer marketing.

This year, USDA again offers a grants process for applicants applying for marketing and promotion-focused projects and is adding an additional option for training and recruitment projects. The turnkey project type was designed to lift the burden of grant applicants applying for funding for this focal area.

Project Successes:
Community Farmers Market, Inc. received a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to address barriers to food access in Atlanta, Ga. The project aims to expand distribution opportunities, increase consumer awareness, and address affordability challenges experienced by vendors and consumers. Hundreds of local farmers and ranchers and thousands of customers have benefitted from this project's work.

Rosebird Gardens, LLC used Local Food Promotion Program funding to expand the year-round availability and accessibility of locally and regionally produced agricultural products in Kingman, Ariz., and surrounding regions. Over the course of the award, the project provided local farmers with the training to build their individual businesses, and improved collective marketing channels – including a CSA program and distribution model to meet the needs of rural community members. The project activities supported a range of producers including both new/beginning farmers and underserved farmers and more than tripled the number of customers purchasing from local producers.

Regional Food System Partnerships Program
The Regional Food System Partnerships program supports public-private partnerships that intend to build and strengthen the viability and resilience of local or regional food economies. Projects focus on increasing the availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products and alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers.

Project Success:
Padilla Farm received a 2021 Regional Food System Partnerships grant to evaluate the need for slaughterhouse facilities for small farms in South Texas. Using the results of the study, Padilla Farm received a Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program grant through USDA's Rural Development. The additional grant allowed them to build a facility closer/more central to the producers' location, and they were able to get legislation passed in Texas to allow small producers to send smaller herds of animals to processing facilities.

New Local and Regional Food System Resources
The LAMP Navigator is an interactive tool that contains LAMP grantee data to demonstrate the impact the grant programs have had on local and regional food systems. The tool allows users to explore LAMP grant inputs, activities, and project details.

The Local and Regional Food Systems Resource Guide provides a comprehensive list of permanently available programs supporting local and regional food systems as well as one-time recent programs that aim to help communities actively develop and fulfill their plans and visions for their local and regional food systems. The Local and Regional Food System Resource Guide organizes programs and services by steps in the supply chain: land conservation, production, processing, aggregation-distribution, markets-consumers, and food loss and waste reduction and recycling. It also includes a section on research, education, and technical assistance programming.

The Report to Congress evaluates the LAMP programs, providing both quantitative and qualitative analyses of impacts from each grant program based on self-reporting on grant applications and grantee award reports from 2019 through the 2022 funding cycles. This report responds to a request in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the Farm Bill) regarding the impacts of the LAMP programs.

LAMP Application Information
Applications must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 14, 2024. Any grant application submitted after the due date will not be considered unless the applicant provides documentation of an extenuating circumstance that prevented their timely submission of the grant application. Read more in AMS Late and Non-Responsive Application Policy.

AMS encourages applications that serve smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities. For grants intending to serve these entities, applicants should engage and involve those beneficiaries when developing projects and applications.

AMS offers Request for Applications webinars for new applicants to help walk them through the Request for Applications while also providing helpful hints on what has made past recipients successful. Additionally, Frequently asked questions are posted on the AMS Grants website, and grants management specialists are standing by to answer any incoming questions and emails during regular business hours.

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