Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of over $52 million in support of the growing organic industry nationwide and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs.
The Secretary noted that several programs and organizations in New Mexico will share in nearly $1 million of those grant funds, part of an effort to aid family farm and ranch operations and to strengthen opportunities within rural New Mexico communities through regional food networks.
"Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies," said Secretary Vilsack. He announced the grant awards during ceremonies at the Virginia State Fair last weekend.
The money is being provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Farmers Marketing and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP).
"Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organic options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country...[and] will also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans."
For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
New Mexico State University was awarded the lion's share of the funds in New Mexico and will receive $499,191 to improve competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers across the state. Several organizations in New Mexico will share the remaining $538,279 in federal grants to help develop new markets for agricultural products.
“Connecting our communities to their local farmers and produce markets increases options for families to purchase healthy, locally-grown food, and it helps boost the economy at the same time,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) in a joint statement with Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) announcing the grants.
Market and promotion support
The lawmakers said the 2014 Farm Bill created the OREI grant program and increased funding for marketing and promotion support for local food enterprises, with the intent of helping to develop more opportunities for new and small farmers and producers.
“Through investments in marketing outreach and training, small family farmers and ranchers – especially in our rural and tribal communities – will have the tools necessary to attract more business while providing fresh food options to New Mexicans," Heinrich added.
USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) awarded over $27 million in competitive grants to expand marketing through the new Local Food Marketing Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).
LFPP will invest millions annually in marketing and promotion activities for local food enterprises including food hubs, aggregation businesses, local food processors, farm to institution activities and other similar efforts. FMPP makes annual investments in marketing and promotion activities for farmers markets, CSAs and other direct producer-to-consumer outlets for local food.
"These Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grants provide farmers and ranchers around the country with tools to reach consumers, strengthen ties between urban and rural communities, and help meet the growing demand for locally and regionally produced food," said AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo.
The 2014 FMLFPP funding in New Mexico is as follows:
- Delicious New Mexico (Albuquerque) will receive $100,000 to provide outreach, marketing, training and technical assistance to improve and expand the Española Food Hub into an incubation hub for Northern New Mexico food businesses.
- Santa Fe Community Foundation will receive $100,000 to expand a local, healthy food procurement program to low-income and low-access communities that will improve the capacity of Pueblo agricultural producers through farm-to-market training.
- The National Center for Frontier Communities will receive $25,000 to the National Center for Frontier Communities to assess the feasibility of a regional food hub in Silver City to support a more self-sufficient local food economy in southwestern New Mexico.
- The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute will receive $91,604 to establish an advertising campaign to promote the market and Federal benefits redemption at the South Side Summer Market, and provide technical assistance and professional training to vendors.
- The Pueblo of Pojoaque will receive $44,616 for promotional activities, expanded services and season and vendor recruitment to grow the Pojoaque Farmers Market.
- The Pinyon Foundation (Santa Fe) will receive $100,000 to produce and implement Spanish language multimedia campaigns promoting farmers’ markets nationwide.
- The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association will receive $77,059 to promote SNAP redemption at farmers markets in four counties and train vendors to use EBT.