On October 13, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $9.2 million investment in the promotion of local farmers markets through the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). As the FMPP website states, “These grants are targeted to help improve and expand domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agricultural programs, agri-tourism activities and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.” Farmers’ markets are integral parts of many VMS communities across the Commonwealth and many currently existing activities could be enhanced and expanded through accessing the resources of the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Though grants have been awarded for 2012, exploring examples of activities and programs who have successfully gained this funding can help VMS communities prepare for accessing these funds upon the next request for proposals. The USDA also provides multiple other grant and loan opportunities for rural communities, ranging in scope across the four points of the Main Street Approach. For direct assistance from the USDA, contact Errol Bragg, director of farmers’ markets and local food marketing, at (202)720-8317 or email@example.com.