The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing local and organic foods with a new round of grants.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $52 million in grants for U.S. organic, local and regional food industries, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service administrator, Anne Alonzo, said in a news conference Sept. 29.
Vilsack announced the grants earlier Sept. 29 at the Virginia State Fair, Alonzo said.
Most of the grants, which were issued through five USDA programs, were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Programs include the AMS’ Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Foods Promotion Program; the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative; and Community Food Projects.
“There is huge demand for local produce, and it’s growing,” Alonzo said. “We are really confident that these investments by USDA will go a long way to providing farmers and ranchers with greater opportunities and consumers with more options.”
AMS received more than $27 million in competitive grants to expand marketing through the Local Food Marketing Promotion Program, a new program, and the Farmers Market Promotion Program.
The new local foods program will invest millions annually in marketing and promotion activities for food enterprises including food hubs, aggregation businesses, local food processors and farm to institution activities.