Culpeper Times: Spanberger, Moffitt announce funding for local, regional food systems at Carver Center

CULPEPER TIMES, MARIA BASILEO

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) and USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt hosted a roundtable discussion on Tuesday at the Carver Center in Rapidan to announce $26 million in grant funding available to create more and better markets for agricultural producers and businesses through the USDA Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).

“I know many of you have been recipients or are working on projects that have been funded through the Local Food Promotion Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Regional Food System Partnerships program,” Moffitt said. “We’re excited that we’re able to announce funding for three of those programs today.”

“As we are working to pass the Farm Bill this year, it has been wonderful working with so many of the producers in the room and across the district to make sure that I’m advocating for the priorities that matter most here in Virginia’s 7th District,” Spanberger said.

The event began with area producers and previous LAMP grant recipients discussing how the program has impacted their businesses and the region’s agricultural economy as well as the challenges they face applying for federal grant dollars.

Spanberger and Moffitt heard from attendees about the need for a more centralized way to apply for grants that are similar in nature rather than individually, challenges meeting matching fund requirements and the desire to increase page limits for grant narratives.

“My biggest takeaway was some of the biggest challenges and hurdles folks in this room face are actually eminently fixable,” Spanberger said. “The idea that a room full of people are saying, ‘Limiting the pages on this application impedes me from telling my story.’ That’s a fixable problem.”

“No one said, ‘These programs aren’t good, these programs aren’t needed, these programs kind of miss the mark.’ They were saying these are great programs but there’s challenges getting to them.”

USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt (left) and U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (middle) speak with Culpeper Minutemen Chapter VASSAR Historian Charles Jameson (right).Maria Basileo

Some of the attendees included The Piedmont Environmental Council President Chris Miller, Founder/CEO of 4P Foods Tom McDougall and Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources Carl Stafford.

LAMP funds projects that increase the availability of locally grown food and develop new markets for local and regional food system stakeholders, farmers markets and food hubs. LAMP includes the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), and the Regional Food System Partnerships (RFSP). LAMP is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Since the establishment of these programs, over 4,000 regional food enterprises nationwide have formed.

The event concluded with a tour to highlight how the center supports the agriculture community through research, shared kitchen spaces, a food incubator and workforce development.

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