What are USDA LAMP Grants and How Do You Get Them?

The federal government has several programs that support farmers and local food enterprises. USDA LAMP Grants are a perfect example. The Local Agriculture Market Program includes several options for funding agriculture projects of various shapes and sizes. Read on for a guide to this program and how to apply for funding.

What are USDA LAMP Grants?

LAMP stands for Local Agriculture Market Program. It is an umbrella program created by the 2018 Farm Bill that includes several grant programs that support regional food business enterprises. Programs include the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), the Regional Food System Partnerships Program (RFSP), and the Value-Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG). These support various types of businesses, from family farms to regional food markets.

Types of USDA LAMP Grants: Local and Regional Food Markets and Enterprises

The USDA LAMP Grant program includes four different grant programs that support different parts of the local food system infrastructure. These are competitive grant funding programs, so farms and food markets need to apply and outline how funds will be used. The process and eligibility vary slightly for each program. So read on for an explanation of what each program does to cultivate regional food economies and support regional agricultural businesses.

Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)

The Farmers Market Promotion Program awards funds to businesses, organizations, regional authorities, and projects to facilitate direct producer-to-consumer markets. Eligible entities may include local food councils or regional farmer’s market authorities. Amounts vary widely, up to $750,000. And a 25 percent match is required.

Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP)

The Local Food Promotion Program supports businesses and organizations that act as intermediaries to increase the availability of local foods. For example, distributors, marketers, and processing facilities that work with farmer’s markets and local food producers may be eligible. Amounts vary up to $750,000. And a 25 percent match is required.

Regional Food System Partnerships Program (RFSP)

The Regional Food System Partnership Program supports projects that involve public-private partnerships in developing local food systems. For example, a food business enterprise working with its local government to create distribution channels for regionally produced agricultural products may apply. Funding may be up to $1 million. And projects can take two or three years to complete.

Value-Added Producer Grants Program (VAPG)

The Value-Added Producer Grants Program is open to agriculture producers. Grants support opportunities for growth like product expansion or marketing. There’s a national competition each year to award this funding. Planning Grants provide $75,000, while Working Capital Grants offer $250,000. Recipients may be required to match 10 to 100 percent of the grant amount.

How to Get a USDA Lamp Grant

Now that you know what LAMP grants are, it’s time to apply. The steps may vary slightly depending on the program you choose. But here’s a basic outline of steps and tips for getting funded through these programs.

1. Decide What Type of USDA Grant You Want to Apply For

The four grants under the LAMP grant program support different types of food businesses and goals. For example, FMPC grants are most applicable for farmer’s markets and direct consumer experiences. LFPP grants are most applicable to intermediaries and distributors. RFSP grants are applicable to agriculture businesses with ongoing public-private partnerships. And VAPG grants are best for agriculture producers. Focus on the opportunity that’s most in line with your work to get the best chance of success.

2. Check Your Eligibility

Eligibility varies by program. But the main requirement is simply that the food business or organization be owned, operated, and located within the United States and its territories. The company’s mission must also be in line with the specific grant program. For example, those setting up direct producer-to-consumer markets may be eligible for FMPC Grants. But those that store and distribute foods as an intermediary should instead apply for LFPP Grants.

3. Make Sure You’re Ready to Apply

Start your application as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of completing every section. You can always go back to edit or add additional information as you gather it. Specific information may vary by application, but here are some things to have before applying.

  • Business license or registration: To qualify for USDA grants, you must have a registered business located within the U.S. and its territories. So gather your business documentation to provide proof of eligibility.
  • A DUNS number: A DUNS number is a number assigned to businesses for the purpose of credit reporting. Federal grants use these numbers to track applications. So, access the Dunn & Bradstreet website to get yours.
  • Access to Grants.gov: Grants.gov is the online portal for applying for all federal grants. You just need a computer or connected device and a reliable internet connection to access the portal and sign up for an account. You’ll be walked through the rest of the application process from there.

4. Be Clear and Concise

As you go through each section of the grant application, you’ll see prompts for explaining why your business or regional food business enterprise should get funding. Explain clearly, but avoid overstating or using elaborate language.

5. Seek Technical Assistance

There are professional grant writers, editors, and consultants who can guide your application. If you’re unsure about your application or just want an extra set of eyes to make sure your information is correct and easy to understand, seek outside technical assistance.

6. Submit Your Application

When you’re finished with your application, you can submit it directly on the Grants.gov portal. Each program has a different deadline or funding cycle. So make sure the relevant dates are on your calendar so you can submit it by then.

7. Wait for the Results

Grant recipients are then generally alerted via email, using the account used to sign up for Grants.gov. Again, the exact timeline may vary by which program you’re applying for. However, you can generally expect to hear about each grant opportunity in the months following the final application deadline for that funding cycle.

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