For the first time, the U.S. Virgin Islands is eligible to participate in the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, allowing the government and local organizations to apply for hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, according to the V.I. Agriculture Department.
“As a result of being eligible, local government agencies, farmers organizations, and non-profit corporations may apply for federal funding through the FMPP,” Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen said in a statement Friday.
The maximum grant awards are $100,000, which may be invested in direct marketing with support for advertising and marketing promotion, bringing local farm products into federal nutrition programs, equipment purchase, transportation and delivery, agri-tourism, waste management; green technologies, market start up and strategic planning.
The purpose of the Farmers' Market Promotion Program is to encourage the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer to consumer market opportunities. Until recently, only the 50 states and the District of Columbia were eligible to apply, according to the statement from Agriculture.
“This success marks the second such victory for the de Jongh/Francis Administration," Petersen said. The first was in 2008, when the territory became eligible to participate in the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, he said.
“Considering our dire economic hardships, it is important that we continue to position our agency and the farming community to receive all available federal funding to supplement local resources for agricultural development,” Petersen said. "We look forward to continuing to provide additional opportunities for residents to explore agribusiness ventures as we focus on increasing entrepreneurial options and providing wholesome, nutritious foods for our citizens.”
For additional information on the FMPP visit its website in the related links below.