Local Agriculture Market Programs (LAMP) are transformative grants in the good food sector. They provide an influx of money for large-scale projects that support the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises, and value-added agricultural products. We often recommend these grants for our clients to help them realize their vision.

Keep reading to learn about the differences between the programs, how to determine which track is best for you, and what you need to prepare your application.

Overview of the LAMP Grant Programs

The USDA recently released the request for applications for fiscal year 2023 grants. In its inaugural year (2014), the USDA invested $27 million in these programs. This year, to support pandemic recovery in the sector, the total award amount will reach $97 million! One advantage of the LAMP grants is that they are available to both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.

There are three LAMP programs:

  • Farmers Market Promotion Program. FMPP’s purpose is to support the development, coordination, and expansion of direct-producer-to-consumer markets to increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.
  • Local Food Promotion Program. LFPP’s purpose is to support the development, coordination, and expansion of local and regional food business enterprises to increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.
  • Regional Food System Partnerships. RFSP supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems.

Each program is further divided into subcategories with corresponding award amounts.

Planning/Capacity Building Grants are typically used for completing a:

  • Feasibility Study to determine the viability of food system ideas
  • Business Plan to establish a concrete plan for launch and implementation
  • Strategic Plan to illustrate how partners will work together to address a need in the community

Implementation Grants are used for:

  • Developing/expanding programs that already have a strong plan in place
  • Cultivating new retail/wholesale channels
  • Improving food system infrastructure (technology, transportation, processing,  storage)
  • Expanding responses to food system challenges

Farm to Institution Grants (new for 2022) are used for:

  • Increasing the availability of local food products on the menus of schools, universities, hospitals, public dining facilities, contracted meal programs, etc.
  • Strengthening relationships between local and regional producers and local and regional food businesses
Farmers  Market Promotion  Program (FMPP) Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) Regional Food System  Partnerships (RFSP)
Planning Grants Capacity Building projects range from $50,000 to $250,000 over 24 months Planning projects range from $25,000 to $100,000 over 24 months Planning and Design projects  range from $100,000 to $250,000 over 24 months
Implementation Grants Community Development Training and Technical Assistance projects range from $100,000 to $500,000 over 36 months Implementation projects range from $100,000 to $500,000 over 36 months Implementation and Expansion projects range from $250,000 to $1,000,000 over 36 months
Farm to Institution Grants (new for 2022) NA Farm to Institution projects range from $100,000 to $500,000 over 36 months Farm to Institution projects range from $250,000 to $1,000,000 over 36 months
What LAMP Grant Programs Support

LAMP grants are intentionally designed to adapt to unique projects in regions across the country. They emphasize collaborations, recognizing that it takes a wide range of stakeholders to improve food systems, and to do so successfully and equitably requires the input of a diverse range of voices.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the types of projects funded by the USDA we have helped support over the years.

FMPP LFPP RFSP
Establishing or expanding producer-to-consumer networks on a regional, state, or national level Carrying out one or more local or regional food supply chain activities (aggregating, processing)  to meet local demand Develop and build community connections (public and private) that allow a region to engage in activities that drive the discovery and promotion of collaboration within the food  system
Marketing assistance for producers to consumers Exploring the development of value-added agricultural products
Providing technical support for small/mid-sized  producers to become compliant with regulatory and buyer standards to increase their direct  market opportunities Outreach, training, or technical assistance (e.g. operating shared kitchens, etc.) Prioritize strategies and innovations that fill food systems gaps, meet stakeholder needs, and facilitate market opportunities and food access  solutions
Market analysis and strategic planning for a direct producer-to-consumer market  opportunity Planning stages of establishing or expanding a local/regional food business in a community
Are you ready to apply? A checklist

All three LAMP grants are due on May 16, 2022. Whether you are thinking of applying this year or waiting until next year, this checklist will help you prepare to submit a well-thought-out application.

  • What else is happening in the community that is synergistic with and/or will support your project? It’s always good to tie projects to other priorities in the community (and other potential funding).
  • What is the need that this project is addressing? How is your project building the local economy or improving food access for low-income families/high-needs communities? Make sure you can tell the story that connects the challenge and your proposed solution.
  • Who are your project partners/stakeholders? Who will be involved? LAMP projects should not be sole ventures. They should involve a range of stakeholders that represent those who will be impacted and whose support is important for project success. Partners should include a combination of the following types of entities:
    • Food-Related Businesses: Those that will contribute to a key component of the project and those that make up the food environment landscape.
    • Community Organizations/Nonprofits: Those that provide direct service. They often provide insight into neighborhoods, demographics, and specific groups.
    • Public Officials: Those who can leverage capital, policy, and development priorities.
    • Education Institutions (schools, universities, training programs): Those that provide related education, technical assistance, and workforce development.
    • Funders/Foundations: Those that provide financial investment and want confidence their money will be effectively spent.
    • End Users: Those who will utilize the facility in some capacity (entrepreneurs, farmers, buyers, etc.).
    • Public: Those who will be indirectly impacted by the project (e.g., live in the community where a facility is built, customers, service providers, beneficiaries, etc.).
  • What are the intended outcomes? Do they respond to community needs? Your proposal should include stated metrics that you will attain that meet the USDA’s desired outcomes and directly tie back to the stated community need.
  • What is your organization’s capacity to implement a grant reward? Large federal grants require more time than you might expect to meet project timelines, stay within budgets, complete activities, and fulfill stated outcomes. Make sure that your organization has the ability to implement the project and if needed, build the personnel into the proposal budget.
Other Resources

Want to learn more? We’ve pulled together some resources and tools (some that we’ve created) to help you further develop your idea and proposal.

  • The Food Corridor hosted webinars in 2021 with valuable information. One was led by Samantha Schaffstall from USDA-AMS and Bill Seretta from Fork Food Lab, a prior grant recipient. Another was led by New Venture Advisors about how the different LAMP grants can be used to start or expand a shared kitchen or community food center.
  • USDA is hosting webinars on April 5, 2022 for FMLFPP and April 6, 2022 for RFSP.
  • Previous recipients: Visit USDA-AMS to review prior awarded projects for FMPP, LFPP, and RFSP.
  • Visit our Toolsite for widgets that can help you refine your plan, e.g., evaluate profitability potential, or how well suited an existing facility might be to your vision.
  • New Venture Advisors created a Readiness Rubric, a framework to help you create a directional map of your strategy, capacity, partnerships, funding, etc. that will feed right into your grant application.
  • Visit our blog for many helpful articles about food incubators and food system planning.

 

Image: Mintr / Shutterstock

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

The Whatcom County Food System Committee recently conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors will partner with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan will focus on six sectors of the food system including fishing, farming, labor, food access, environment, and waste, and will be informed by an inclusive and equitable community engagement process.  The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2022)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a school district commissary. The goal is to strengthen Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. NVA developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development. (2022)