By Donovan Glasgow, Policy Intern
On March 1st, USDA opened grant applications under the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), and with this opening came an exciting announcement; in addition to the standard focus areas of these grants, USDA is seeking to fund Farm to Institution (FTI) projects. Organizations interested in establishing or expanding connections between local food producers and institutions—such as schools, hospitals, elder care facilities, higher education, early childhood education centers, and state agencies—are encouraged to apply.
There are two grants with funding available for FTI projects.
- Under the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), grants aim to develop food businesses which connect local food to institutions. Awards range from $100,000 to $500,000. Eligible applicants include agricultural businesses or cooperatives, CSA networks or associations, food councils, local governments, nonprofits, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments.
- Under the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP), grants aim to facilitate partnerships between the public and private sector. Awards range from $500,000 to $1,000,000. Applicants must be partnerships between one eligible entity and one eligible partner, which are defined below.
- Eligible entities: producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, producer networks or associations, majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, food councils, CSA networks or associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments.
- Eligible partners: state agencies or regional authorities, philanthropic corporations, private corporations, institutions of higher education, and commercial, federal, or farm credit system lending institutions.
Applications for both programs are due 11:59 PM Eastern Time on May 16, 2022. In addition, the application deadline for the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA) has been extended to May 6th! Through the LFPA, state agencies and tribal governments can apply for Cooperative Agreements to buy locally-produced food to supply communities facing food insecurity. See below for more details and assistance on LFPA, or in our Agency Announcements resource.
Shifting Power Through Farm to Institution
Investments in FTI projects hold the potential to address agriculture’s racial and class disparities. Today, 98% of all farmland is owned by white proprietors. Furthermore, farmers who identify as People of Color are more likely to own less land and generate less farm-related wealth than their white counterparts (source). Our Call to Action is that by 2025, 100% of communities will hold power in a racially just food system. Redirecting money back to small-scale farmers and their communities through FTI is one avenue towards this goal.
Stable Revenue Increases Farmer Viability
FTI projects offer farmers a large, additional source of revenue which can complement direct-to-consumer streams such as farmers markets and CSAs (source). More money for local farmers means more money for communities; according to one study, every dollar spent on local food procurement by institutions results in up to $2.16 in local economic activity (source).
Program Focus on Producer Diversity
Both the LFPP and RFSP grants encourage applications that benefit “smaller farms and ranches, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, underserved producers, veteran producers, and/or underserved communities,” and both give priority consideration to projects that “benefit communities located in areas of concentrated poverty with limited access to supermarkets or locally or regionally grown food.”
Resilience for Institutions and Communities
FTI projects allow institutions, such the Livingston School District in Montana, to reduce their dependence on remote supply chains and avoid chronic shortages. When local food is incorporated into cafeteria menus, patrons at these institutions consume more fruits and vegetables (source). And from an environmental standpoint, FTI programs reduce food waste, cut down on food miles (the distance food is transported from harvest to plate), and fund sustainable agricultural practices (source).
To learn more about the LFPP and RFSP grants, review the RFAs, see Frequently Asked Questions, read about previous awardees, and apply for technical assistance available to applicants, visit the below links.
Additionally, check out these helpful resources from the Wallace Center:
- Library of grant writing tips, templates, and tools
- Outreach materials and social media templates
- Webinar: 2021 LAMP Overview and Outreach (Recorded May 2021)
- Webinar: Making Sense of the Regional Food Systems Partnership Grant (Recorded April 2021)
- Webinar: FMLFPP Proposals: The Insider’s Scoop (Recorded May 2019)
- More information about the LFPA
Be sure to share these opportunities and resources with producers, enterprises, and institutions in your network!