Â Carbondale, ILÂ â€“ An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today urged local food producers to apply for a federal grant that promotes farmers markets.
The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced the availability of $10 million in competitive grants for FY 2011 through the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The deadline to apply is July 1.
The grants are targeted at projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.
Priority status will be granted to those projects that expand healthy food choices in food deserts. Entities eligible to apply for grant funding include agricultural cooperatives, local governments and nonprofit corporations.
â€œI encourage local food producers across the state to take advantage of this opportunity to grow their farmers markets,â€ Lt. Governor Simon said. â€œExpanding access to local foods promotes healthy eating and strengthens our economy.â€
Lt. Governor Simon serves as chair of the Governorâ€™s Rural Affairs Council, which is focused on developing markets for locally grown foods by removing barriers to farmers markets, as well as encouraging compliance with the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act.
Â For additional information on grant eligibility and how to apply, visit http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FMPP. Â Â