Jun 5, 2024
A win for farmers: USDA grants aid organic market development

The USDA recently announced an investment of $40.5 million in grants through the Organic Market Development Grant program.

This initiative, comprised of 60 projects, aims to strengthen the processing and promotion of domestic organic products.

The projects encompass various initiatives: the development of new markets, infrastructure improvements to enhance processing capacity, adoption of emerging technologies for promoting organic products and procurement of equipment to meet the rising demand for organic commodities. With an anticipated benefit to more than 27,000 producers and more than 31.8 million consumers, these projects are poised to make a significant impact on the organic market landscape, according to a USDA press release.

USDA Organic Market Development Grant program One of the grant recipients, Almar Orchards in Flushing, Michigan, plans to use the funding to expand into the baby/kid food market by installing a washing and sorting line. This expansion will not only increase domestic sourcing but also serve as an aggregator for other growers in the region, fostering collaboration and growth within the organic community, according to the release.

Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small of the USDA emphasized the importance of the grants to organic farmers to access new markets. 

“Farmers who choose to grow organic often access new, more and better markets,” she said in the release. “At USDA, we are committed to making it easier for farmers who make that choice through programs like the Organic Market Development Grant Program, which supports farmers and increases access to fresh, healthy foods.”

Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt underscored the critical role of the grant program in addressing the needs of the growing organic industry. 

“This round of awards through the Organic Market Development Grant program will address critical needs within the nation’s growing organic industry — funding projects that further our goals of creating and expanding markets for producers,” she noted in the release.

The initiatives align with USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative, which was launched in fall 2022 and offers a suite of programs and resources to support existing organic farmers and those transitioning to organic production and processing. Through programs like the Organic Market Development Grant program, USDA is working to develop more resilient local and regional food systems and promote climate-smart agricultural practices.

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