USDA Announces over $90 Million Available to Support Local Food Systems, Specialty Crop Producers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of more than $90 million in competitive grants to help strengthen local and regional food systems, develop new market opportunities for producers, and support farmers growing fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, flowers and nursery crops (known collectively as specialty crops).
These grants programs are administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and include 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."
More than $62 million is allocated in grants to U.S. states and territories through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for projects supporting specialty crop growers through research and programs to increase demand. Interested applicants should apply directly through their state departments of agriculture, which administer a competitive grant process. A listing of the SCBGP's state contacts, and how to apply with state application due dates, can be found at: www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/scbgp. State departments of agriculture must submit their applications to AMS by July 6, 2016.