By Heather Chapman, The Rural Blog

LEXINGTON, KY – This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $23 million in competitive grant funding for programs that develop and expand local and regional food markets, businesses and producer-to-consumer marketing.

The USDA release said, "Eligible applicants include agricultural businesses or cooperatives, producer networks or associations, community supported agriculture networks or associations, food councils, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and tribal governments."

The Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program were authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill under the Local Agricultural Marketing Program. The FMPP funds producer-to-consumer projects that go for three years and range from $50,000 to $500,000. The LFPP funds local and regional food business projects that go for 18 months or three years and range from $25,000 to $500,000. Both programs require matching funds equal to 25 percent of the total federal portion of the grant.

Applications for both programs must be submitted electronically through by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 18, 2019.