Kuster, Fortenberry, Pingree Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Small Farmers Access Federal Grants
Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Annie Kuster (NH-02), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), and Chellie Pingree (ME-01) introduced legislation that waives matching fund requirements for agriculture businesses who receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMPP and LFPP) and Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG).
“The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us that our food supply chains are fragile and that farmers and producers in the Granite State cannot be taken for granted,” said Kuster. “Family-owned farms and small to mid-sized producers are facing gut-wrenching financial challenges while restaurants and other markets are not accessible -Congress must work to find creative solutions to help our farmers and producers adapt and get their products directly to consumers. The Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, and Value Added Producer Grants are all fantastic programs that help farmers diversify their operations and connect with local consumers — a win-win for both ends of the food supply chain. My legislation recognizes that our farms need this support now more than ever by waiving the matching requirements to secure these grants through 2021.”
“Enabled by federal programs, local and regional food markets have increased significantly in recent years, connecting the rural to the urban and farmer to the family as part of the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. Due to the coronavirus-related closure of farmers markets and restaurants, local food producers are facing unprecedented challenges. This legislation can help"–– Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
“In bringing the farm to the table, growing food is only the first step – value-added processing is a critical component of our small farm economy,” said Pingree, an organic farmer and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and House Agriculture Committee. “USDA has a wide network of grants available to support small farms and local producers, but many require high levels of matching funds that producers simply cannot afford during this economic downturn. As someone who helped to develop these grant programs in the 2018 Farm Bill, I fully support waiving the matching fund requirements to provide much-needed relief for small farmers. Local farms are essential to our nation’s food security and rural economies, and they need as much support as possible to keep going.”
The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) are managed by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. FMPP provides financial support to applicants who are developing or expanding their food and products through farmers markets and roadside stands, as well as through agritourism and online sales opportunities. LFPP supports applicants who are developing or expanding local and regional food business enterprises, such as food hubs and community-supported agriculture. These intermediaries help consumers find locally and regionally produced food. Both these grant programs currently require recipients to provide a 25% match of the total project cost in order to obtain funding.
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) are managed by the USDA Rural Development. These grants help farmers and producers initiate value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of their products. Examples include specialty crop farmers processing part of their fruit harvests into pies or jams, or dairy farmers processing their own cheese. This grant program currently requires recipients to provide a 50% match of the total project cost in order to obtain funding.
The full legislative text is available here.