USDA offers $27 million to support local food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service is making available $27 million in grants to support local and regional food producers and businesses.

"The grants will continue USDA's support for the local food sector as an important strategy for keeping the wealth in rural communities," said AMS administrator Elanor Starmer in a news release. "Entrepreneurs around the country are creating jobs and new economic opportunities in response to growing consumer demand for local food. AMS is excited to partner with local food stakeholders to strengthen local economies and improve access to fresh, healthy food for their communities."

The AMS is requesting applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, which offers grants through the Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program. More funding is available through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. These programs focus on revitalizing rural America through support of local and regional food stakeholders.

The farmers' market program supports direct-to-consumer marketing projects such as farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs, roadside stands and agritourism. The local food program focuses on intermediary supply chain activities for local food businesses by providing funding for aggregation, processing, storage and local food distribution.

AMS will host a webinar about grant opportunities for the programs on Feb. 15. More information can be found at ams.usda.gov/AMSgrants.

Applications must be submitted electronically by March 27.

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