The USDA will be making $90 million in competitive grants available to strengthen local food systems, develop market opportunities and support growers specialty crops.
The grants will be run through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program.
“Over the past seven years, USDA has strengthened local and regional food systems by investing in projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities for small businesses and increase access to healthy foods,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These grant programs make a real difference to farmers, ranchers, and businesses in communities across the country, revitalizing rural economies while also increasing access to fresh, healthy food.”
$62 million comes through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Applicants can apply through their state departments of agriculture. Applications are due by July 6, 2016. The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is offering $26 million in grants, divided equally between Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program. Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program is offering nearly $1 million to state departments of ag, state colleges and universities and other state agencies. Grant applications must be submitted electronically through www.Grants.gov by May 12, 2016.
Help with grant writing is being offered through the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance Project. You can also get more information from www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants. The website also contains a link “What AMS Grant is Right for Me?” to guide you to the best fit for your project.