According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), local food was a $8.7 billion market for farmers in 2015. This market does not show signs of slowing down, as USDA estimates that the local food market will reach $20 billion in sales by 2019. Especially as farmers cope with such extreme uncertainty around agricultural trade, we should be cultivating promising domestic markets.
The Senate’s 2018 Farm Bill includes language to establish the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which would provide permanent funding for local food by consolidating existing programs into a single program. This would create a one-stop-shop at USDA for farmers, organizations, and other stakeholders, making it easier for them to receive support for local and regional food projects.
Consolidate Value Added Producer Grants, Farmers Market/Local Food Promotion Program, Value Chain Coordinators, and planning partnerships into a new program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service in coordination with Rural Business-Cooperative Service;
Maintain purpose and eligible entities for each program;
Identify Cooperative Extension Service as the lead for outreach and technical assistance;
Provide $60 million in mandatory funding and $20 million in appropriated funding;
Reserve 35% of funding for farmer or rancher grants; and
Reserve 10% of funding for projects supporting beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers.
LAMP was a provision of the Local FARMS Act (H.R. 3941, S.1947) introduced by Rep. Chellie Pingree, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Senator Sherrod Brown, and Senator Susan Collins.
As House and Senate conferees work to consolidate their versions of the farm bill, it's critical that LAMP be included in the final bill text.