Funding for Conservation and Local Food Programs

USDA Provides New Cost Share Opportunities
Springtime marks not just appropriations season but also a bumper crop of open program application periods for Conservation and Local Food Programs!
RFAs Open Right Now:

(Usually agencies label these public calls for applications RFAs – Request for Applications)

  • FMLFPP – Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program – $26 million ($13m for LFPP, $13 for FMPP) to fund a wide spectrum of direct-to-consumer and local food marketing projects; applications due May 12.
  • RCPP – Regional Conservation Partnership Program – $260 million to fund multi-partner projects that “improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability” – also includes projects focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation for the first time; applications due May 10.
  • CIG – Conservation Innovation Grants – $20 million to fund the development, application, and demonstration of innovative conservation technologies and approaches; applications due May 10.

RFAs Expected to Open Soon:

  • FSOP – Food Safety Outreach and Training Program – Expected to open any day now
  • Section 2501 – Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers – Likely to open in early April
  • VAPG – Value-Added Producer Grant Program – Expected to open any day now; most likely March 30

Panel Review Opportunities:

Serving as a grant reviewer is an excellent way to learn about the grant process, become familiar with a specific grant program and/or funding agency, learn about innovations in your area of interest, and network with colleagues in your field. In addition, becoming a grant reviewer is one of the best ways to prepare for the development of a grant proposal! It is also extremely valuable for sustainable ag voices and expertise to be present on panels. The review process varies by program; some programs conduct reviews remotely, others take place in person in DC (along with lots of reading at home beforehand)

Each program has slightly different requirements for who can be a reviewer; see information below on several programs to get started! Note: if your organization is applying for a grant from one of the programs above, that does not necessarily preclude you from applying to review (but you won’t be able to review your own application, of course) – each program varies in how they handle this.

  • FSOP – Submit your contact information to indicating your interest and expertise.  Please be aware that panelists may not submit grant applications to this program, nor serve as major collaborators in any grant applications submitted to this program. From our contact: “We’re looking for panelists with knowledge and expertise about food safety education, outreach, training, and technical assistance. Additional knowledge and expertise regarding new FSMA food safety guidelines for a variety of agricultural production and conservation systems is also desirable. Also, we’d like a representative sample of folks who actually represent the folks this program targets – owners and operators of small and mid-sized farms, small processors, etc”
  • VAPG – Details will be available once the RFA is released.

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