July 15, 2010

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE GRANT TO SUPPORT MARYLAND'S LOCAL FARMERS AND AGRICULTURE

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced the USDA has awarded more than $120,000 in federal grants to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland College Park , and the University of Maryland School of Nursing. The grant money will fund a study of the economic impact of Maryland farmers and encourage the production and use of locally-produced foods.

"The agriculture industry is the backbone of Maryland 's economy and this funding will help develop new, innovative ways to sell our products," Senator Cardin said. "Locally grown produce and organic products are important parts of our agricultural industry and this grant will help our state market these products."

 "This federal funding is good news for Maryland 's agriculture and the jobs that depend on it. These funds will ensure that critical research activities continue," Senator Mikulski said. "I applaud the people who work on Maryland 's farms, and in our federal labs, universities and other research facilities for their commitment to our State. I will continue to fight to put money in the federal checkbook to support their important work."

USDA awarded $20,825 to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the University of Maryland College Park and Maryland farmers market managers, to assess the economic impact of Maryland farmers markets, identify ways to expand the customer base and increase sales at farmers markets, and explore the feasibility of forming a statewide farmers market association. 

In addition, USDA granted $100,620 to the University of Maryland School of Nursing, in cooperation with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission and the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, among others, to encourage increased use of locally-produced sustainable protein foods such as poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs in Maryland health care facilities and institutions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded over $1.3 million in 22 matching grants to 18 states supporting agricultural market research and demonstration projects. These grants, provided under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program, will explore new and innovative approaches to marketing U.S. food and agricultural products and to improve the efficiency and performance of the marketing system. 

"These projects reflect the new realities of today's increasingly competitive global marketplace," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "They are focused on developing innovative, more efficient and market-oriented ways to benefit our agricultural sector and support our nation's economy."

These grants focus on developing agricultural marketing strategies for an array of projects including eight local/regional food projects, two bio-energy projects, a farm-to-school project and a food safety for direct marketers project. FSMIP funds a wide range of applied research projects that address barriers, challenges, and opportunities in marketing, transporting, and distributing U.S. food and agricultural products domestically and internationally.