WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently announced it has signed a cooperative 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), which will enable the agency to purchase locally grown food from historically underserved producers.
“USDA is excited to partner with West 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.”
Through LFPA, WVDA will subgrant funds to the Facing Hunger Food Bank (FHFB) and the Mountaineer Food Bank (MFB). The food banks will purchase food from local underserved producers. FHFB will purchase product from a vast collection of producers and will also use 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 above wholesale prices.
Purchased food will be distributed to rural and remote West Virginian communities by FHFB and MFB. Through established partnerships with producers, the food banks will ensure distribution of fresh and processed foods to underserved communities after the end of the grant. In total, it is expected that food will be purchased from at least 40 producers and serve a minimum of 111,000 West Virginians in need.
“Given supply chain issues, the aftermath of the pandemic and other issues plaguing our food supply, its vital we continue to invest in agriculture. At the same time, we must keep nutrition at a premium and create resiliency through local food systems for the security of our citizens. These dollars, allocated to West Virginia from the USDA, will help our farmers, as well as our must vulnerable. We are happy for the partnership,” said West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
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.
More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.