CLEVELAND – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced over $9 million in grants to organizations across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to initiatives that bolster the connection between agricultural producers and their consumers while improving access to healthy food and strengthening local economies. Merrigan made the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) awards announcement while speaking at the Project for Public Spaces Annual Public Market Conference.
“This year’s Farmers Market Promotion Program awards are diverse and illustrate the many different ways farmers are directly connecting to communities and consumers,” said Merrigan. “From starting up mobile markets to helping new farmers and ranchers, these grants will create new economic opportunities and encourage consumers to eat healthier.”
Merrigan made the announcement in Ohio, which has a long tradition of local farmers pursuing direct-marketing opportunities in their operations. More than 6,800 Ohio farms sell directly to consumers. These investments represent USDA’s efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems through projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities, increase access to healthy foods and use social media to link markets and vendors. This year, almost five percent of total funding will be awarded to six projects in the state.
This year’s funding includes:
- More than 40 projects that connect farmers and ranchers to new customers by establishing new markets and other retail outlets, community supported agriculture programs or extend the market season;
- Seventeen projects that will support the use of new delivery approaches such as online and mobile markets, broadening the customer base for several businesses;
- Thirteen projects that reinforce USDA’s commitment to new and beginning farmers and ranchers, increasing opportunities, training and support for those just getting started;
- Twelve projects that focus on initiatives that support American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, and new opportunities for Latino, refugee and immigrant farmers;
- Ten projects that will help hospitals and health care organizations improve eating habits in their communities through education and the direct marketing of fresh local produce; and
- Nine projects that support agritourism, bringing visitors and consumers to farms and ranches.
Since 2006, FMPP has awarded over $32 million. FMPP’s mission, which was broadened by the 2008 Farm Bill, is to establish, expand, and promote farmers markets and direct producer-to-consumer marketing. FMPP is administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The full list of awards granted for fiscal year 2012 is available at www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP.