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News

Local and regional food marketing funding available

NFSN Staff Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Editor's note: This post was written by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and originally appeared on their blog. The National Farm to School Network is a member of NSAC.

On Thursday, May 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), a competitive grants program which provides a total of $30 million for a wide spectrum of direct-to-consumer and intermediated marketing projects to help grow economic opportunities and income for small and mid-sized family farmers, increase consumer choice and access to fresh and healthy food, and improve the economy in rural communities.

As an expanded version of the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), the FMLFPP recognizes the skyrocketing consumer demand for locally-grown food, one of the fastest growing sectors in American agriculture.  Yesterday’s release of the Request for Applications follows on the heels of an announcement by Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack of both the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and a change to the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Local Food Enterprise Program.

FMLFPP and its predecessor program, FMPP, have been championed by NSAC for over a decade.  The scaling up of the program in the 2014 Farm Bill was part of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) with a host of co-sponsors.

The fundamental goal of FMLFPP is to develop new marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers.  Details on the RFA, which for this initial year of farm bill implementation, was divided into a Farmers Market Promotion Program RFA and a Local Food Promotion Program RFA, are available below.

The 2014 Farm Bill divides the funding for FMLFPP in halves.  Hence, under the request for applications released yesterday, $15 million is available in grants for direct-to-consumer outlets like farmers markets, community supported agriculture, pick your owns, agritourism, and other forms of direct marketing; another $15 million will be available in grants for local and regional food enterprises that are not direct farmer-to-consumer markets, including food hubs, food aggregators, food distributors, food wholesalers, food processors, and other value-added production enterprises, such as shared-use kitchen or kitchen incubator operations.

AMS has posted the two RFAs on their website, one for direct-to-consumer marketing projects and one for non-direct-to-consumer marketing projects.

Applications for both the “FMPP” and the “LFPP” portions of the program are due on June 20, 2014 via the www.grants.gov website.

Eligible Grant Recipients

For both direct marketing and local food projects, eligible entities are:

  • agricultural businesses;
  • agricultural cooperatives;
  • producer networks;
  • producer associations;
  • community supported agriculture (CSA) networks;
  • CSA associations;
  • local governments;
  • nonprofit corporations;
  • public benefit corporations;
  • economic development corporations;
  • regional farmers market authorities; and
  • tribal governments.

Priority Consideration

For both types of projects, USDA will give priority to projects that:

  • primarily serve low income/low food access (LI/LA) communities as defined by the USDA in its ERS Food Access Research Atlas map; or
  • involve Promise Zone Lead Applicant Organizations.

Please see RFA for detailed instructions on how to demonstrate the fulfillment of these categories.  At least 10 percent of the total funding will be reserved for projects from the LI/LA priority category.

Direct Marketing Specific Project Information

Direct Marketing – Eligibility

Projects funded must assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.  Additionally, projects must demonstrate benefits to two or more farmers, producers, or farm vendors who produce and sell their own products through a common distribution channel directly to consumers.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • market startup, operation, infrastructure;
  • farmer/rancher/manager training and education;
  • advertising/outreach;
  • market analysis and planning;
  • customer and producer surveys;
  • vendor and customer recruitment; and
  • new venue establishment.

Although eligible entities can submit more than one application for review, FMPP will award only one grant per eligible entity and project in a grant funding year.

Matching funds are not required.

Direct Marketing – Minimum and Maximum Award Amounts and Project Length

The minimum award is $15,000 and the maximum is $100,000.

The maximum duration for projects is 24 months and must begin no later than September 30, 2014 and end no later than September 29, 2016.

Direct Marketing – Staff Contacts at USDA

For questions about FMPP, please contact one of the following staff at USDA:

Mrs. Carmen Humphrey, FMPP Branch Chief; or

one of the FMPP Grants Management Specialists

  • Mrs. Lee Cliburn
  • Mr. Karl Hacker
  • Mr. Ricardo Krajewski
  • Mrs. Camia Lane
  • Mrs. Earlene Henderson-Samuels.

By email: USDAFMPPQuestions@ams.usda.gov or by phone: 202-720-0933.

Local Food Specific Project Information

Local Food – Eligibility and Match Requirements

Projects funded must be designed to assist in the development, improvement, and/or expansion of local and regional food business enterprises.  Local or regional food business enterprise are organizations or business entities that function as an intermediary between producers (farmers or growers) and buyers by carrying out one or more local or regional food supply chain activities such as aggregating, storing, processing, and/or distributing locally or regionally produced food products to meet local and regional market demand.

Local or regional food is defined as a food product that is raised, produced, aggregated, stored, processed, and distributed in the locality or region where the final product is marketed to consumers.  The total distance the product is transported must be within 400 miles from the origin of the product or, both the final market and the origin of the product must be within the same State, territory, or tribal land.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • mid-tier value chains;
  • food hubs;
  • other food aggregators, processors, wholesalers, and distributors; and
  • other value-added production enterprises, such as shared-use kitchen or kitchen incubator operations.

Eligible entities are the same as for direct marketing projects (see above).

Although eligible applicants can submit more than one application for review, applicants are limited to only one grant in a grant-funding year.

A cash or in-kind match, in an amount equal to 25 percent of the total cost of the project, is required.

Local Food – Two Types of Grants

Two types of project applications: planning grants and implementation grants:

  • Planning grants are used in the planning stages of establishing or expanding a local and regional food business enterprise.  Activities can include market research, feasibility studies, and business planning.
  • Implementation grants are used to establish a new local and regional food business enterprise or to improve or expand an existing local or regional food business enterprise.  Activities can include training and technical assistance for the business enterprise and/or for producers working with the business enterprise, outreach and marketing to buyer and consumers; working capital, and non-construction infrastructure improvements to business enterprise facilities or information technology systems.

Local Food – Minimum and Maximum Award Amounts and Project Length

For planning grants the minimum award is $5,000 and maximum is $25,000.  The maximum duration for projects is 12 months and extensions may not exceed an additional 6 months.  Projects must begin no later than September 30, 2014 and end no later than September 29, 2015.  Planning grant recipients are eligible and encouraged to apply for implementation grants, after their planning grants are closed out and planning projects are completed.

For implementation grants the minimum award is $25,000 and maximum is $100,000.  The maximum duration for projects is 24 months and extensions may not exceed an additional 6 months.  Projects must begin no later than September 30, 2014 and end no later than September 29, 2016.

Local Food Staff Contacts at USDA

For questions about FMPP, please contact one of the following staff at USDA:

Nicole Nelson Miller, LFPP Program Manager; or

LFPP Grant Specialists — Velma Lakins, Samantha Schaffstall

By email: USDALFPPQuestions@ams.usda.gov or by phone: 202-720-2731.

Webinars for More Information

AMS will hold a webinar on the application process and eligibility for FMPP applicants on May 13, 2014 from 10:30 am-11:30 am EST.  The webinar will also be recorded and available for future use.   To join the FMPP webinar please register at this link: https://cc.readytalk.com/r/8vug7o4joctv&eom

AMS will hold a webinar on LFPP’s regulation, the application process, and eligibility on May 14, 2014 from 2pm-3:30pm EST.  The webinar will also be recorded and available for future use.  To join the LFPP webinar, please register at this link: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=cablorpc4umq


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