Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota and Renewing the Countryside receive a USDA 2011 Farmers Market Promotion Program Award
Washington, DC October 13, 2011 – Today USDA announced the recipients of this year’s Farmers Market Promotion Program awards. The 2011 awards span 149 projects in 42 States and the District of Columbia and total $9.2 million in funding.
The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) aims to increase and strengthen direct producer-to-consumer marketing channels. Through a competitive grants application process, FMPP funds marketing proposals not only for farmers markets but also for community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, roadside stands, agritourism, and other direct marketing strategies. For example, the 2011 FMPP awards include funding for 38 new and existing CSAs as well as 20 agritourism projects.
Along with increasing farm income and consumer access, USDA’s press release explains that “[i]ncreasing healthy food access in food deserts and low-income communities was a priority for the 2011 FMPP awards.” In sum, 64 percent of awarded projects in 2011 address these program priorities.
This year’s FMPP award to the Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) of Minnesota, is but one example of food access priority and the utility of FMPP awards in serving ranchers and in addressing infrastructure gaps. Explains SFA Executive Director John Mesko,
“This project will help expand the meat processing infrastructure in Northern Minnesota so people in the region can access locally-raised, lean meat directly from area farmers. The current lack of USDA and/or state E2 inspected meat processing facilities contributes to this regions status as a food desert. We will also provide education to consumers and producers about processing and purchasing locally produced, direct marketed meats. SFA is excited to be able to continue working with our friends at Renewing the Countryside to expand local food availability and to provide profitable markets for Minnesota’s sustainable local food producers.”
Since the Farmers Market Promotion Program began in 2006, over $23 million in projects have been funded.
SFA-MN is a farmer-run organization that provides a network for farmers and a connection to eaters/consumers. Our members are making a difference at the ground level of sustainable agriculture.