Farmers Market Coalition and Market Umbrella Release Study of FMPP Grant Activities and Impacts
The Farmers Market Coalition and Market Umbrella have released the results from a survey of Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grantees from 2006 through 2011. Between 2006 and 2012, FMPP has provided 575 grants ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 to support a wide array of farmers market and direct farm marketing programs at local, regional, and state levels. Demand for the program is high, with only 21% of applications funded between 2006 and 2012.
Since receiving FMPP awards, grantees reported increases in agricultural producer participation, vendor sales, and product diversity. FMPP funded outreach, new market start-up, marketing strategies, trainings, and business skill development. These resulted in season extension, increased community engagement, improved food safety, and added entrepreneurship opportunities. Most grantees increased the number of weeks and days of the week their operations were open for business, which supported increases in first-time customers. Highlighted findings from the study include these:
> Increases in sales of farm products: Grantees report an average 27% increase in vendor sales since receiving a FMPP grant. Some 88% of grantees report an increase in the diversity of local farm products available since their FMPP award began, with an average 34% increase in the number of participating agricultural producers.
> Bringing more consumers to farmers markets: An overwhelming majority of grantees (151, or 94%) cited an increase in the number of first-time customers since their grant was awarded. Of these, 70 grantees (44%) reported a significant increase.
Further, more than three quarters of grantees used grant funds to reach out to participants in federal nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Among grantees allocating funding for electronic benefit transfer (EBT) activities, 92% reported an increase in the return rate of SNAP/EBT shoppers since their grant was awarded, and 85% report an increase in sales to SNAP participants.
Participation in FMPP motivated many grantees to leverage other funding sources and form partnerships, and 94% of responding grantees said that FMPP made their organization stronger than it was prior to the grant. Anne Palmer, member of the project’s multidisciplinary Evaluation Advisory Group and Program Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, says of the findings, “Many of the respondents noted that FMPP was a catalyst for partnerships and those partnerships helped increase farmer sales and improve access to quality produce in a wide diversity of neighborhoods.”
Funds used for manager training initiatives correlated with a greater increase in producer sales (at 94% significance), suggesting that using FMPP funds to host trainings for managers accounts for an $85,366 increase in reported producer sales.
In a separate green paper based on findings from the study, researchers identify three areas where improvements could have most impact as public and private initiatives to support local food evolve to meet the needs of more farmers, consumers, and communities:
· networking and information-sharing
· program evaluation
The green paper makes recommendations in each area to help maximize public investment in food system viability and make funded projects more accountable to a growing number of stakeholders.
University of Arkansas
National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative