WASHINGTON — The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with West Virginia under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). The agreement will provide funding to the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), allowing the agency to source locally grown food from historically disadvantaged producers.
“USDA is excited to partner with West Virginia to advance economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy and nutritious food in underserved communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement program will improve the resilience of the food and agricultural supply chain and increase local food consumption across the country.”
Through LFPA, WVDA will allocate funds to the Facing Hunger Food Bank (FHFB) and the Mountaineer Food Bank (MFB). The food banks will buy food from local, disadvantaged producers. FHFB will source products from an extensive pool of producers and will also utilize product sources through the WV Small Farms Association and other regional collectives. The program will help these farmers compete with larger producers who sell their food at higher wholesale prices.
The food purchased will be distributed by FHFB and MFB to rural and remote communities in West Virginia. Through established partnerships with producers, the food banks will ensure the distribution of fresh and processed food to underserved communities after the subsidy ends. In total, food is expected to be sourced from at least 40 producers and serve at least 111,000 West Virginians in need.
“Given the challenges in the supply chain, the aftermath of the pandemic and other issues plaguing our food supply, it is vital that we continue to invest in agriculture. At the same time, we need to keep nutrition as high as possible and create resilience through local food systems for the safety of our citizens. These dollars, allocated to West Virginia from the USDA, will help our farmers, as well as our most vulnerable. We are delighted to be working together,” said West Virginia Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt.
The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve the resilience of the food and agricultural supply chain. Through this program, USDA will award up to $400 million through non-competitive partnerships with state and tribal governments to support local, regional and disadvantaged producers through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of the delivery destination.
AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program that will enable state and tribal governments to source and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious and unique to their geographies. area.
More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local food purchase assistance program webpage.