The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the establishment of the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA) that will award up to $400 million to support food purchases, emphasizing doing business with underserved farmers and ranchers.
The awards will be made through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments, said the USDA. At www.grants.gov, eligible state and tribal governments can apply until April 5, 2022.
Also, as part of the Build Back Better Food System Transformation Initiative, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is announcing the availability of up to $50 million in funds to state agencies to expand program access in rural, tribal, and other currently underserved areas.
These grants and the LFPA are part of USDA’s support for food banks and the broader emergency food system.
The investments are part of USDA’s Build Back Better Food System Transformation initiative authorized by the American Rescue Plan. The funds are among the programs derived from a $1 billion investment announced earlier this year to bridge the immediate need to support producers via the Pandemic Assistance Initiative to longer-term investments in food system transformation.
The USDA said one of the lessons from COVID-19 is that the current food system is too rigid, consolidated, and fragile. These cooperative agreements will help state, tribal, and local entities purchase food more efficiently from local producers and invest in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to reach underserved communities more effectively.
“As we build back better than we were before, we will strengthen our efforts to provide emergency food assistance and expand economic opportunity for historically underserved producers by allowing state and tribal governments to buy and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious and unique to their geographic area,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
“This program will help get local and regional agricultural products into schools, food banks and other nutritional assistance programs, and organizations that reach underserved communities. It also advances our efforts to ensure that historically underserved populations gain equal access to USDA resources through a combination of grants, loans, pilot programs, technical assistance, cooperative agreements, and more,” added Vilsack.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service manages the cooperative agreements. The agreements will provide organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers within the state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination that best suit their local needs, accommodates environmental and climate conditions, accounts for seasonal harvests, and meet the needs of the population within their service area.
State and tribal governments can partner with nonprofits. They will be required to submit proposals indicating how they will use the funds to purchase commodities to support local, regional, and historically underserved farmers and ranchers within their states or region. Information about the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA) is available at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/lfpacap.