29 July 2022, US: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Virginia under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). Through LFPA, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) seeks to purchase and distribute locally grown, produced, and processed food from underserved producers.
“USDA is excited to partner with Virginia to promote 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 food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”
With the LFPA funds, VDACS will partner with agencies with the capacity to procure foods from local sources, focusing on underserved farmers and vendors. VDACS estimates the program will purchase food from 166 local farmers to then distribute the food to 164,000 individuals per month with a goal of ensuring the program reaches all areas of the Commonwealth.
“Local Food Purchase Assistance cooperative agreement grant funds will increase the amount of local farm products purchased for distribution to underserved families, and in doing so will benefit Virginia’s agricultural industry while strengthening our local food systems,” said VDACS Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “We thank the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for this partnership as this funding provides us with another resource to address food insecurity in Virginia and collaborate with farmers and agribusinesses to ensure agriculture has a productive and prosperous future in the Commonwealth.”
The LFPA program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency. Through this program, USDA will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and underserved producers through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination.
AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program that allows state and tribal governments to procure and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious, and unique to their geographic area.