Hoeven: USDA Announces $96 Million in Available Funding to Support Local Food, Specialty Crops and Farm to School Efforts

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, who serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made almost $96 million available for innovative agricultural projects that will help Americans gain better access to healthy, nutritious food.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administered the grants, which include the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Farm to School Program grants, also included in the announcement, are designed to help qualified entities implement farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.

“Today, there is a high demand for fresh, healthy food,” Hoeven said. “These grants will help our nation’s food producers expand their market opportunities, and also help families and schools have better access to nutritious food.”

The SCBGP grants are distributed to states and territories based on a formula that takes into account both specialty crop acreage and production value. These grants reflect just one of the ways Senator Hoeven is working to make sure the farm bill helps to advance the good work of North Dakota’s producers. Last spring, Hoeven announced that USDA had awarded grant funding to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture through SCBGP that was reauthorized in the 2014 farm bill.

Interested SCBGP applicants should apply through their State department of agriculture. State contacts and application due dates can be found here.

The FSMIP funds will support research projects that aim to address challenges and opportunities in marketing, transporting and distributing U.S. agricultural products domestically and internationally.

The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program will divide funding equally between its two grant programs: the FMPP, which supports direct farmer-to-consumer marketing projects, e.g. farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism, while the LFPP funds projects that support intermediary supply chain activities for food products.

Grant applications for FSMPI, FMPP and LFPP are due at 11:59 p.m. EST on May 14, 2015. Applicants should apply through http://www.grants.gov/.

AMS will host a webinar on March 25, 2015, to introduce FMPP and LFPP to potential applicants and a teleconference about FSMIP on March 31, 2015.  For more information about SCBGP, FSMIP, FMPP, and LFPP, including program background and webinar information, visit the AMS grants website: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/AMSgrants

Farm to School Program grants will go towards training, supporting operations, planning, purchasing equipment, developing school gardens, developing partnerships and implementing farm to school programs. Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EST, May 19, 2015. Letters of intent for training grants are due by 11:59 p.m. EST, April 30, 2015. The USDA will host a webinar on the application process March 17, 2015, 1:00 p.m. EST.

For additional information regarding the Farm to School Program grant program, upcoming webinars and sample grant applications can be found here.