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Serving: IN

USDA Offers Grants for Direct Marketing to Consumers

Deadline nears for applying for grants.

The push toward direct marketing of ag goods to consumers continues as USDA opens its coffers once again via a grant program for those who are marketing directly to consumers. USDA has set aside $5 million in a competitive grants program 'to improve and increase direct farmer-to-consumer marketing. It's known as the Farmers Market Promotion Program.

Ann McConnell of the Indiana Department of Agriculture recently alerted media statewide that the deadline for this program is nearing. Applications must be submitted by April 27. That's the postmark date (latest date) allowed on the application. At stake is a minimum of $2,500 per grant, or a maximum of $100,000 per applicant. You can learn more at: www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5075760&acct=fmpp.

The FMPP program opportunity has been promoted by a non-profit group called the Center for Rural Affairs, based out of Lyons, NE. According to information form this Center, USDA will give priority to proposals that meet certain criteria. They include those that develop new electronic benefit transfer programs to use for federal nutrition programs at farmers markets. This one ties USDA's biggest purpose based on distribution of funds, federal assistance through food welfare programs, to the farmers marketing concept.

Those eligible to apply for grants include farmer-owned coops, nonprofit groups, ag co-ops, local governments, economic development corporations, regional farmers markets, public benefit corporations and even Tribal Governments.

Farmers markets and direct marketing to consumers of either produce goods or meat and other animal products continues to gather steam, even if it remains a small percentage of the way the overall number of consumers purchase their food supply in Indiana. Some 2,000 or more people are expected to show up every Friday this spring and summer in Greensburg, Ind., for example, to shop at a farmer's market that sets up downtown. Among those offering goods there are a local farmer and a butcher who combine forces to offer meat form Berkshire hogs. They promote it as more tasty pork, and have been successful in increasing sales.

The local-food-concept will grab front-page coverage in the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer with an article about Moody Meats of Ladoga, Ind. Started by a farmer trying to support a family on limited acreage, this business now employs a couple dozen people and supplies home-grown meats and products to a variety of customers. Another operation featured there is Royer meats of west-central Indiana.

Take a look at the articles. They will be posted online when the entire May issue is posted in coming weeks. Look for it under 'Magazines online.'

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