WASHINGTON, D.C. — USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said many times since taking office that the agency would invest in local and regional markets in an effort to make the food system more resilient.
Now, it’s happening. So, what does that investment look like in the West?
USDA on Monday announced a $90.2 million investment in 203 projects nationwide. Across California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, 21 projects received funding.
The funding comes through two grants run by the Agricultural Marketing Service: the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs and the Regional Food System Partnerships.
“These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems,” Vilsack said in a statement.
Four Oregon organizations received Farmers Market Promotion Program grants:
• Gorge Grown Food Network, a nonprofit, plans to use the $109,212 it was awarded to provide technical assistance to 10 farmers markets, recruit young and minority farmers and expand marketing.
• Oregon Farmers Markets Association received $546,385, which it plans to use to help at least 90 farmers markets across the state with development, branding and new vendor support.
• Friends of Zenger Farm, an urban farm in Portland, will use $404,305 to run an apprenticeship program for beginning minority farmers.
• Good Meat Project, a nonprofit, aims to use $496,712 to help meat producers expand direct-to-consumer markets.
Also, Oregon State University received a Regional Food System Partnerships Program grant for $229,351, which the university plans to use to strengthen eight local “food hubs.”
Three Washington organizations received Farmers Market Promotion Program grants:
• Bellingham SeaFeast, a festival, plans to use its $294,373 to expand marketing outreach, training and support low-income customers.
• A nonprofit called Sustainable Connections will use $517,553 to help small to midsized farms in Whitman County and the Olympic Peninsula adopt digital technologies.
• Washington State Cheesemakers Association got a $334,795 grant, which it plans to use to expand marketing and train cheesemakers.
Idaho’s Regional Food System Partnerships Program grant recipient was Valley Family Health Care in Payette, which plans to use $203,590 to develop a food hub that expands processing and distribution capacity from southeastern Oregon to western Idaho.
Nine California organizations won Farmers Market Promotion Program grants:
• The Ecology Center will use its $748,518 to promote farmers markets and train producers.
• Farmers Market Coalition was granted $686,926 to help farmers build a stronger web presence.
• Petaluma Bounty, a nonprofit, will use $749,941 to promote farmers markets.
• Community Alliance with Family Farmers received $271,667, which it plans to use to train farmers in value-added product development and food safety.
• The Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs’ Activities League will use $749,999 to expand fresh produce access for low-income residents and people with illnesses.
• Wild Local Seafood Co. LLC will use $498,119 to expand markets for California fishers.
• Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association will use $400,864 to develop home cooking videos.
• Veggielution plans to use $375,165 to help disadvantaged farmers and entrepreneurs.
• The nonprofit Planting Justice will use $500,000 to establish a weekly farmers market.
Three California organizations received Regional Food System Partnerships grants:
• The University of California will use $813,744 to expand markets for meat producers.
• The San Diego Food System Alliance plans to use $711,624 to launch a “Local Food Economy Lab.”
• The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association will use $163,133 to develop a food purchasing collaborative.