CLEVELAND, Sept. 21, 2012 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced over $9 million in grants from the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) awards to organizations boosting “healthy food access.” The award money is allocated to organizations across 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"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 Cleveland, Ohio, where she spoke at the Project for Public Spaces Annual Public Market Conference. "From starting up mobile markets to helping new farmers and ranchers, these grants will create new economic opportunities and encourage consumers to eat healthier."
According to the USDA announcement, 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, 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) and the full list of awards granted for fiscal year 2012 is available at www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this program will continue in the farm bill when Congress decides to act,” Merrigan said today. She said while all the FMPP projects focus on local food, she saw increased interest from hospitals and health care centers in the initiative, as well as mobile innovations to generating local food access.
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