Academy Farm Bill Priorities Receive Millions from USDA

10/04/2016 - The USDA announced more than $113 million in grants to strengthen local and regional food systems, support farmers markets, minority and veteran farmers, organic research and offers funding opportunity for specialty crop research.

These grant initiatives, listed below with the amount they are receiving, provide jobs to Academy members that support the local food system and address food insecurity and were fought for during the last Farm Bill.

Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program: $26 million

The funding will provide for more than 100 projects that support rural economies, increase market opportunities for farmers and help close supply chain gaps in communities across the country.

These competitive grants are divided equally between the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program and are administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, which works to improve market opportunities for U.S. growers and producers.

Organic Research and Extension Program: $21.4 million

The funding will provide for 26 projects that help organic farmers and ranchers improve business operations and bring more organic food to the table of consumers.

The grants are funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and the Organic Transitions Program, two programs administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Community Food Projects: $8.6 million

The funding will provide for 33 projects that help make healthy, nutritious foods available to people from low-income neighborhoods.

The grants, offered through NIFA's Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, support projects that foster self-sustaining solutions to food security in at-risk communities. Recent analysis shows the U.S. is making tremendous headway in battling hunger and food insecurity across America, decreasing food insecurity through healthy diets and nutrition education.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative: $48.1 million

The funding will provide for support systems-based research and extension activities that accelerate science-based solutions and new technology for the specialty crop industry.

Specialty crops are defined as fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The funding is available in fiscal year 2017.

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill to invest in long-term solutions that address problems in the overlapping systems of production, distribution and processing, and consumers and markets.

Support Minority and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers: $8.4 million

The funding will provide for programs in 24 states that provide training, outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged, tribal and veteran farmers and ranchers.

Since 2009, USDA has invested over $1 billion in more than 40,000 local food businesses and infrastructure projects.

Visit the Academy's overview of the bill for more information about the Farm Bill, including recommendations for the bill and programs.