Operationalizing Equity: How State Entities are Targeting Socially Disadvantaged Producers in USDA’s LFS and LFPA Cooperative Agreement Programs

Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, Arizona State University
October 10, 2023

In 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) established the Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) and the Local Food for Schools (LFS) cooperative agreement programs to mitigate supply chain disruptions that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both programs sought to serve food insecure communities most impacted by the pandemic, while taking historic steps to target support for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers within local and regional supply chains.

This study explores how state governments are using LFPA and LFS funding to develop or advance local food purchasing programs that target socially disadvantaged producers. Tribal governments were also eligible to apply for these programs, however none were engaged for this project, therefore further research is needed to understand program design by Tribal cooperators. Based on findings from a survey and interviews with state agencies, we share examples of how these programs are operationalizing equity in program design, measurement, outreach, and implementation. We discuss how learnings and outcomes can advance equity in state and federal programs.

A goal of this research project is to make our findings accessible to those who seek to “operationalize equity.” We present what we heard in a non-academic style with direct quotes to enable our target audience—cooperators, in particular state agencies—to hear firsthand how others are approaching implementation. While each state differs inits approach, interviewees expressed a common desire to learn from one another to adapt approaches to their own state’s context.

August 2023

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