The USDA will make $90 million in grants available to those looking to build local and regional food systems. From the press release:
Over the past seven years, USDA has strengthened local and regional food systems by investing in projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities for small businesses and increase access to healthy foods,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These grant programs make a real difference to farmers, ranchers, and businesses in communities across the country, revitalizing rural economies while also increasing access to fresh, healthy food.”
Approximately $26 million in grants will go to support direct sales through farmers markets, CSAs, and agritourism, as well as supply-chain planning for storage, processing and distribution. Applications are due May 12.
The USDA also offers $62 million for farmers growing specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, flowers and nursery crops.
USDA data show that specialty crop sales exceed $83 billion per year. Since 2009, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has supported these growers by investing nearly $393 million into more than 5,400 projects.
Applications to the specialty crop grant program must be made in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Read more about both initiatives here.