WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced 20 grants totaling $900,000 to establish, expand or promote local farmers markets, roadside stands, and similar agricultural ventures under the new Farmers Market Promotion Program.

"Farmers markets are popular throughout the country and beneficial for both farmers and consumers," said Johanns. "It gives farmers another outlet to sell their products, and consumers access to fresh, locally grown food."

The goal of the FMPP is to increase domestic consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products while providing support to farmers. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the program. These first-time grants are authorized under the recently amended Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976.

These grants will assist regional farmers markets authorities; local governments; nonprofit and economic development corporations; and tribal governments in 17 states in carrying out a variety of projects.

AMS will award funding for the projects listed by state online.

SOURCE: USDA news release.