On March 9, 2020 USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the availability of $27 million in funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP). FMLFPP has two subprograms – the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) – with a separate Request for Applications (RFA) for each subprogram. Both programs provide grants on a competitive basis for a wide variety of direct-to-consumer and local food marketing projects.
The deadline to apply for both grants is May 26, 2020 (extended from May 11, 2020 due to COVID-19) and all submissions must be done through grants.gov.
To help prospective applicants successfully navigate the application process, AMS is hosting two webinars in April, one focused on grants.gov and the other on the FMPP and LFPP grant funding opportunities. The details of those webinars are not public yet, we will post all relevant information as soon as it is public.
COVID-19 and Local Food
NSAC recognizes these are challenging times for organizations and farmers working in the local and regional food space and we are actively working to mitigate and address the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic and response presents for local and regional food systems. NSAC released this statement on the response and is actively working with Congress and the Administration to ensure farmers and operators of local and regional food systems are included in emergency response legislation. Those efforts include advocating for maximum flexibility in the grant process, including extending the RFA deadline. Stay tuned for more from NSAC on specifics related to FMFLPP as well as our overall response to the crisis.
Farmers Market Promotion Program
FMPP supports projects that have a direct farmer-to-consumer focus, such as: farmers markets, CSA (i.e. community supported agriculture) programs, roadside farm stands, pick-your own operations, and agritourism.
FMPP will continue to offer two distinct types of grants: 1) Capacity Building and 2) Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance Projects. There are no changes to the maximum and minimum awards size from last year. For Capacity Building (CB) projects, the minimum award is $50,000 and the maximum award is $250,000. For Community Development, Training and Technical Assistance (CTA) projects, the minimum grant award is $250,000 and maximum award is $500,000.
Unfortunately, the 2018 Farm Bill included language that requires a 25 percent match – either cash or in-kind – for FMPP projects. The maximum duration for both FMPP CB projects and CTA projects is 36 months and projects are expected to begin on September 30, 2020 and be completed by September 29, 2023. The FY 2020 RFA for FMPP can be found here, general information about FMPP can be found here.
Local Food Promotion Program
LFPP seeks to develop and expand local and regional food business enterprises to increase access to locally produced foods and develop new market opportunities for local producers. LFPP supports projects including, but not limited to processing, distribution, aggregation, storage, and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products sold through intermediated marketing channels.
LFPP will continue to offer two types of grants: 1) Planning Grants and 2) Implementation Grants. There are no changes to the maximum and minimum awards size from last year. Planning Grants provides a minimum award of $25,000 and a maximum of $100,000. Implementation Grants have a minimum award of $100,000 and a maximum of $500,000. LFPP requires a 25 percent match – either cash or in-kind – as does the FMPP.
Planning projects grants have an award period of up to 18 months and are expected to begin on September 30, 2020 and be completed by March 31, 2022. Implementation project grants can be awarded for up to 36 months and are expected to begin on September 30, 2020 and be completed by September 29, 2023. The FY 2020 RFA for LFPP can be found here, and additional information about the program can be found here.
Peer Review Panels
Every year, USDA seeks members of the public to serve on their grant peer review panels. The peer review panels help USDA review grant applications and recommend which projects should receive funding. Grant reviewers, typically people with academic, non-profit, and/or on the ground agriculture-related experience, help to ensure that the projects funded advance the goals of the program. If you are interested in being part of this process and bringing your sustainable agriculture knowledge to the reviewers’ table, please consider volunteering for a FMLFPP peer review panel. AMS has launched a new peer reviewer application portal, which can be found here. The current deadline to apply to be a grant reviewer for FMLFPP is April 6. Please not that this deadline may change along with the RFA deadline so please check back here for updates.
In order to meet the steadily increasing demand for locally and regionally produced food, farmers need targeted resources to help them bring their operations to scale. In FY 2019, FMPP received 182 applications, but only had enough resources to fund 49 (27 percent) of the projects. LFPP received 216 applications and similarly was only able to fund 41 (19 percent) projects.
This year, FMLFPP saw an increase in available grant funding from $23.5 million to $27 million due in large part to NSAC’s effort to bolster the program through the annual appropriations process. NSAC understands the value of this growing industry – both for farmers and for consumers – and is fighting for expanded FMLFPP funding to support farm-to-fork pipeline programs once again in the FY 2021 appropriations package.