POSTED: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 2:54pm
UPDATED: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 4:02pm
BATON ROUGE, La — Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the United States Department of Agriculture and Forestry has approximately $10 million in funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) to help create farmers markets in underserved rural, urban and tribal areas as a way to increase availability of local agricultural products in communities throughout the country.
"The money can help rural, tribal and urban economies create direct marketing opportunities, like farmers markets, for our Louisiana farmers,” Strain said. “It's an opportunity for our smaller towns and inner city urban areas to obtain greater access to healthy, fresh food and minimize the impact of food deserts."
Completed applications must be received – not just postmarked – by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service no later than close of business on July 1, 2011. Applications received after the deadline – and incomplete applications – will not be considered.
Applicants should visit the FMPP website for assistance in applying and for full details about food deserts. The “FMPP Pre-Application Guide” helps applicants assess their readiness for implementing a federally-funded grant project, and the “How to Apply for an FMPP Grant” tutorial will guide them through completion of the application. These and other tools can be found at http://www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP .
Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts. Groups eligible to apply for the funding include agricultural cooperatives, producer networks and associations, local government entities, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities and tribal governments.
The process also includes creating opportunities to build electronic benefits transfer infrastructure at farmers markets.
Earlier this year, USDA’s Economic Research Service released a Food Desert Locator tool online. The Food Desert Locator is an Internet-based mapping tool that pinpoints the location of food deserts around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. To use the Locator, visit http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert .
Since 1994, USDA has tracked the number of operational U.S. farmers markets. Since that time, the number of farmers markets listed in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory has skyrocketed from 1,755 to 6,132. The directory captures information about where and when farmers markets operate, if they participate in federal nutrition benefit programs, and detailed information about their seasonality and location.
For more information, write to: Carmen Humphrey, Program Manager, Farmers Market Promotion Program, AMS, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 4509 – South Building, Washington, DC 20250; call (202) 720-8317; or fax (202) 690-0031.