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Grants to Support Farming and Strengthen Local Food Systems

On this page we have compiled a list of funding sources to help strengthen local food systems. Some of the grants help farmers directly and others help support local food initiatives. We've provided the most recent application deadline or release date as guideline, but be sure to check the current request for applications for the current deadlines.

Our state Farmers Market Authority offers several programs to assist Alabama Farmers:

  • Senior Farmers Market nutrition Program (SFMNP)
  • WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WFMNP)
  • Farm to School
  • MarketLink

Southern Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) has several opportunities that support local food systems. A list of funding opportunities and their descriptions can be found here.

In 2014 and 2015, SARE opportunities included:

  • Research and Education grant - these projects are conducted by teams of interdisciplinary researchers specializing in sustainable agricultural systems. 2016 RFA released in March.

  • Professional Development grant - provides sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies for Cooperative Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and others who work directly with farmers and ranchers. 2016 RFA released in March.

  • On-Farm Research grant - are available to agricultural professionals on working farms to help their farmer clients find sustainable solutions to problems. The deadline is November 13, 2015

  • Producer grant - available for farmers to conduct research, marketing and education projects. 2015 RFA released in September.

  • Sustainable Community Innovation grant - are administered by Southern SARE and the Southern Rural Development Center for the purpose of linking sustainable agriculture with healthy economic community development. 2016 RFA released in March.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and National institute of Food and Agriculture offer several programs meant to directly support farmers markets and local food systems:   

  • Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) The purpose of the FMPP is to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets by supporting direct to consumer activities. The 2015 deadline was May 14.
  • Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) offers grant funds with a 25% match to support the development and expansion of local and regional food business enterprises to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local markets. There are two types of project applications are accepted under LFPP—planning grants and implementation grants. The 2015 deadline was May 15.
  • Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) - provides funds to meet the food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, community outreach, or improving access to food. The 2015 deadline was March 17.
  • Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant Program - commonly called the "double up bucks" program, this program supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. There is a request for applications every other year. The next request is due out in 2016.
  • Specialty Crop Block Grant - The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)." The 2015 deadline was May 22.
  • Value Added Producer Grant - Value-Added Producer Grants support planning activities, such as developing a business plan, as well as working capital. The 2015 deadline is July 22.

Potential sources of private funding for local food system projects:

  • Aetna Foundation - The Aetna foundation offer grants to support the creation and expansion of community gardens, urban farms and farmers markets in underserved, low-income and minority communities. The 2015 deadline was May 6.

Do you know of a funding opportunity that could benefit Alabama Farmers? Let us know by sending an email to: woodskl@aces.edu