NERCRD leads nationwide grant-writing workshops in support of local foods

Posted: February 26, 2015

Grant-writing workshops designed to help potential applicants understand, develop, and submit their Federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program are being offered in every US state this spring. This effort, known as the Agricultural Marketing and Technical Assistance (AMSTA) project, is the result of a unique collaboration between federal, state, and regional partners.
The AMSTA website provides information about grant-writing workshops and additional resources for grant seekers.

The AMSTA website provides information about grant-writing workshops and additional resources for grant seekers.

[Visit the AMSTA website here.]

Each state Extension service in collaboration with their Regional Rural Development Center  (RRDC) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to conduct workshops in their states. NIFA is coordinating the workshops through the RRDCs and Cooperative Extension System educators will provide training in all regions of the country. The Northeast Center is providing leadership for this innovative national training project.

“In the history of the RRDCs this is an unprecedented collaboration in terms of the scope and reach of a single project,” said Stephan Goetz, director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. “We are pleased to be a part of this partnership effort and expect that it may become a model for efficient delivery of federal educational programs in the future.”

The project was launched in September, and since then Goetz and other members of the national leadership team have worked with Cooperative Extension to identify trainers in each state. After completing train-the-trainer workshops in their region, those state trainers will deliver grant-writing workshops and technical assistance to potential grant applicants in their states. A list of upcoming grant workshop dates and locations can be found on the AMSTA website, and the State representatives listed on the website can be contacted for additional information. Some of the workshop sessions will be recorded and available for online viewing for those not able to attend in person.

With $30 million authorized annually by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) through fiscal year 2018, AMS's Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program awards competitive grants to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local and regional markets. The Farmers Market Promotion Program supports farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer activities, while the Local Food Promotion Program supports enterprises that aggregate, store, distribute and process local and regional food.

These investments are part of USDA's commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems through projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities, and increase access to healthy foods. USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative (KYF2) coordinates USDA's support for local and regional food systems. Projects aligned with these efforts can be found on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. More information about AMS is available here, and more information about NIFA is available here.
The USDA press release describing this effort can be found here.