December 1, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Alaska Farmers Market Association awarded a USDA Grant to support farmers markets, farm stands, and Community Support Agriculture
Homer, AK- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $37.5 Million this year to 84 recipients across the country, including funding to Alaska’s Cook Inletkeeper, fiscal sponsor, and incubator of the Alaska Farmers Market Association. These funds will be allocated to farmers markets and partner organizations around the state.
“With 95% of our food imported from outside, food security is a top concern for many Alaskans. Farmers markets strengthen food security through local production and offer a place for farmers to sell their products directly to customers. Markets also foster greater connections between communities and their farmers,” said Robbi Mixon, Executive Director of the Alaska Farmers Market Association and Local Foods Director at Cook Inletkeeper. “This is an incredible opportunity for Alaska’s agriculture sector. Purchasing local food supports farms, increases our region’s food security, protects the environment, creates jobs, and boosts the local economy – all of which create greater resiliency.”
Since 2006, the number of farmers markets in Alaska has more than tripled: from 13 to 41 in 2017. In 2021, the Alaska Farmers Market Association (AFMA) counted 56, with more in planning. According to the 2017 NASS Agricultural Census, Alaska ranked first in the nation in terms of new farms, with most of these operations being small (under 10 acres). In addition, Alaska’s direct sales have continued to rise over the last decade – farmers markets are integral to this growth. More than ever, across the state, our market communities desire connection, networking, collective marketing, and training opportunities for long-term success. Given the wide-ranging capacities of markets, coordinated statewide marketing materials and efforts are also needed.
“These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems to kickstart this transformation. The Local Agriculture Marketing Program grants have a history of generating new income sources for small, beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and creating new market opportunities for value-added and niche products,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
AFMA has created the general framework to support statewide farmers market management, training, and promotion, providing direct benefits to Alaska’s farmers markets vendors and customers. This project seeks to further support markets, including CSAs and farm stands, in new ways, to directly support the Alaska Farmers Market Association’s mission to support and promote vibrant and sustainable farmers markets throughout Alaska, by:
- improving local food opportunities through targeted marketing efforts and assets;
- increasing marketing and business capacities of direct marketing organizations producers through outreach, training, and technical assistance;
- improving AFMA’s operational capacity; increasing access and equity to local food by improving outreach to SNAP/WIC/SFMNP recipients;
- and creating a young farmers network to support new farmers.
“Small and medium-sized farmers, ranchers, and processors have an important role in strengthening our food supply chain. These USDA local and regional food grants will help these agricultural businesses build, expand and sustain the processing, distribution, and storage systems that will help move food from the farm to the table,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.
Media Contact: Robbi Mixon, email@example.com, 907-235-4068 ext 23