Federal Funding Coming for Farmers' Markets
FarmPlate Mar 02, 2010 News 2 comments
The USDA's Know Your Famer, Know Your Food initiative has earmarked $5 million in funding from the 2010 Farmers' Market Promotion Program for grants to develop new farmers' markets and enhance existing markets, roadsides stands and CSA programs as part of Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the grant funding on a visit to New York City last Thursday, where she said, "The benefits of direct-to-consumer marketing are two-fold. Consumers are provided with fresh, healthy, affordable and locally grown products, while meeting the farmers that produce it. Farmers, on the other hand, are able to expand their economic opportunities and grow their incomes."
The grants are an effort to reduce what the first lady has labeled as “food deserts,” areas in the country that don’t have access to healthy foods from supermarkets or farmers' markets.
According to the USDA, there are 5,274 farmers' markets in the country. This figure marks a 13 percent increase in farmers' markets since 2008. Despite this increase, there are still many areas nationwide that do not have farmers markets. Click on the Local Foods tab then select "Farmers' Markets" on the USDA Economic Research Service's recently launched Food Environment Atlas for a visual representation of the so-called "food deserts."
The goal for the 2010 grants is three-fold: to recruit new farmers to participate in direct-to-consumer sales, to develop professional expertise for managers to improve the organization and operation of farmers' markets, and to broaden access to healthy, farm-fresh foods in underserved regions of the country.
The $5 million allocated for the 2010 grants is just the kick-start for the program. An additional $10 million will be provided for both 2011 and 2012. The grant program is part of the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which was created through a recent amendment of the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976.
Groups eligible to apply for a grant include agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers' market authorities and Tribal governments. Each approved application could receive a grant up to a maximum of $100,000.
Applications can be submitted until April 14. For more information about how to apply for a grant, see the Farmers Market Promotion Program webpage.
More National News
Feb. 24: SK Foods, one of the country’s largest tomato processors, has been involved in a bribery scheme that has compromised food safety. New York Times
Feb. 25: The Vermont Senate voted to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant because of radioactive leaks. New York Times
Feb. 24: The Vermont House of Representatives is considering a bill that will tax “non-nutritional” foods. VPR