The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made significant advancements in food purchasing efforts through new programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA) and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS) fund purchasing programs that aim to strengthen local and regional food systems, improve agricultural supply-chain resiliency, and support underserved producers. The application period for LFPA closed on May 20; applications for LFS remain open for eligible organizations until July 20, 2022.
“The Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program and the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program are important parts of USDA’s wholistic approach to invest in the future of rural communities as we transform the food system to be one that is more resilient, more equitable, and fairer for both producers and consumers,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through these programs, combined with our ongoing efforts to support producers, invest in the middle of the supply chain, and support competitive markets, we are making good on the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to strengthen food supply chains while delivering food to those who need it.”
“USDA is excited to see such strong interest in local food and regional food systems from states, territories, tribal governments, and organizations throughout the country,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “These programs leverage government procurement efforts to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities while building more and better markets, especially for underserved producers.”
Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement (LFPA)
LFPA received 86 eligible applications, including applications from 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and 33 federally recognized tribal governments. Three states, Colorado, Connecticut, and Alabama have already signed cooperative agreements with the USDA.
These states have created plans to administer LFPA funding utilizing partnerships that will address each state’s unique food system challenges. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is partnering with the Colorado Department of Human Services to procure locally grown food products from underserved producers and then packing, transporting and distributing these food products to communities in need of nutritional support. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) plans to partner with the statewide food bank to purchase and distribute Connecticut grown products to underserved communities. Additionally, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) is working closely with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians to purchase and distribute food. ADAI is also partnering with Tuskegee University to utilize their cold storage facility to aggregate, and store produce from underserved farmers.
In the coming week, USDA will sign cooperative agreements with at least five more states. USDA is also making progress towards completing agreements with numerous other states, territories, and tribal governments.
The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency. Through this program, USDA is awarding up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and underserved producers through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination.
More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.
Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS)
LFS provides $200 million in funding, through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, to help states deal with the challenges of supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic. The program funds food assistance purchases of domestic local foods for distribution to schools. The goal of the program is to strengthen the food system for schools by helping to build a fair, competitive, and resilient local food chain, and expand local and regional markets with an emphasis on purchasing from underserved producers and processors.
LFS is currently accepting applications from eligible organizations. The application period closes July 20 at 11:59 p.m. More information is available on AMS’s Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.