Local and Regional Foods

Local and Regional Foods: Title I (Commodities), Title II (Conservation), Title IV (Nutrition), Title VI (Rural Development), Title VII (Research, Extension, and Related Matters), Title X (Horticulture), Title XII (Miscellaneous)

Provides support for increased production of and consumer access to regionally produced food, via research and marketing through both farmer direct-to-consumer outlets (e.g., farmers’ markets) and intermediated outlets (e.g., farm-to-institution, local retailer, or restaurant sales).


  • The Local Agriculture Market Program consolidates and expands the scope of the existing Value Added Producer Grant and Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion programs to support business and market development along the entire length of local or regional food system value chains (that is, ventures spanning “farm to fork”).
  • The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program renames the existing Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program and expands the program by adding a new Produce Prescription Program and creating one or more centers for identifying and disseminating best practices for funded projects.
  • Supports research on urban, indoor, and other alternative agriculture production methods and establishes a new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production.
  • Reauthorizes a number of programs that support locally and regionally produced foods.

New Programs and Provisions

Local Agriculture Market Program (Title X)—LAMP expands and coordinates the purposes and functions of the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Value-Added Agricultural Product Market Development Program (VAPG), effectively supporting enterprise and market development along the entire length of local or regional food system value chains, including farmers, value-added food businesses, and aggregation/distribution enterprises. Funding set-asides are provided for beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers; mid-tier value chain enterprises (local or regional supply networks that link independent producers with businesses and cooperatives that market value-added agricultural products); and farmers who adopt or modernize food safety protocols. New provisions in this section of the 2018 Farm Act support and provide funding set-asides for local and regional public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder ventures.

Mandatory permanent funding for the LAMP is set at $50 million for fiscal year 2019 and every year thereafter, ensuring baseline funding under future farm bills. Appropriations of $20 million are also authorized for fiscal year 2019 and every year thereafter. For the FMLFPP and VAPG combined, the 2014 Farm Act provided $42.6 million in mandatory funding annually and authorized appropriations of up to $40 million annually.

Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (Title IV)—GSNI renames the existing Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI), adds a newly authorized Produce Prescription Program (PPP), and establishes one or more Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information Centers. Mandatory funding is made permanent and increases from $25 million in FY2018 to $45 million in FY2019, followed by incremental annual increases to $56 million for fiscal year 2023, remaining at the 2023 funding level each fiscal year thereafter. Continues authorization of additional appropriations of up $5 million for each fiscal year 2019-2023.

  • Established in the 2014 Farm Act, FINI (now GSNI) funds programs that encourage increased fruit and vegetable consumption by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients at the point of purchase through increased purchasing power. The program is not limited to locally grown produce but prioritizes projects that provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables or that operate at direct-to-consumer venues such as farmers’ markets.
  • The Produce Prescription Program funds pilot projects for nonprofit organizations or State/local agencies to partner with healthcare providers to (i) provide fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income individuals suffering from or at risk of developing diet-related health conditions, and (ii) evaluate the impact of these types of projects on dietary health, food security, and health care use and costs. Previously, eligible projects were funded through FINI. Dedicated funding for PPP pilot projects is capped at 10 percent of the GSNI mandated funds.
  • The Centers are designed to compile and evaluate project data, train grantees, develop and disseminate best practices, and provide an annual report on project outcomes to Congress.

Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative (Title VII)—Authorizes competitive grants to support research, education, and extension activities for enhancing urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production methods. Mandatory funding is $10 million for fiscal year 2019 until funds are expended. Appropriations of $10 million for each of fiscal years 2019-23 are authorized. This initiative also directs the Secretary to conduct a follow-on study to the 2017 Census of Agriculture of urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural production. A one-time appropriation of $14 million is authorized for this data collection effort.

Urban Agriculture (Title XII)—Establishes the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices. The Office’s responsibilities include cross-agency coordination of activities, stakeholder outreach, and external partnerships. The Office will also be responsible for developing cooperative agreements with municipalities in at least 10 States to undertake pilot projects related to compost and food-waste reduction. This provision also establishes an Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee, made up of producers and other stakeholders to advise the Secretary on related policies and outreach and to evaluate ongoing research and extension activities. Appropriations of $25 million for each fiscal year 2019-23 are authorized for carrying out these activities.

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) and Payment Program (Title II). Although CIGs have long been used to fund innovation on traditional farms, new provisions allow for program recipients (including community colleges) to partner with farmers engaged in urban, indoor, or other emerging agricultural practices in field-testing innovative conservation practices.

Study on Food Waste (Title XII)—Establishes a USDA Food Loss and Waste Reduction Liaison to coordinate efforts to measure and reduce the incidence of food loss and waste across Federal, State, local, and nongovernmental programs. This newly created position will conduct studies on the measurement and costs of food waste and the economic value of recoverable food items brought to market, as well as a review of best practices in recycling food wastes.

Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (Title I)—Directs USDA’s Farm Service Agency to work with USDA’s Risk Management Agency in developing a streamlined process for participating in this program that reduces the paperwork burden of submitting records and acreage reports for small-scale, direct-to-consumer, and diverse urban production systems.

Reauthorized Programs and Provisions

Assistance for Community Food Projects (Title IV)—Provides funds to community-based food projects in low-income communities for developing innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers. Public/private partnerships are now encouraged to apply. Annual mandatory funding is reduced from $9 million in FY2018 to $5 million for FY2019 and each fiscal year thereafter.

Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (Title IV)—Provides funds to increase the purchasing power of low-income senior citizens at direct-to-consumer outlets. Mandatory annual funding for the fiscal years 2019-2023 remains the same at $20.6 million.

Healthy Food Financing Initiative (Title IV)—Allows designated community development financial institutions to manage appropriated funds (including raising capital and providing loans, grants, and technical assistance) with the goal of supporting a variety of retail projects in low-income communities that would expand or preserve healthy food access and SNAP redemption options. New types of healthy food enterprises are now eligible, including food hubs (which facilitate the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of locally or regionally produced food products), mobile markets, direct-to-consumer markets, and food business incubators. Authorized appropriations remain unchanged from the previous Farm Act at up to $125 million, to be available until expended.

Locally or Regionally Produced Agricultural and Food Products (Title VI)—Continues requirement to reserve 5 percent of Business and Industry (B&I) Loan program funding for local and regional food system enterprises for each of fiscal years 2019-23.

Economic Implications

The 2018 Farm Act continues a trend of increased mandatory funding for programs supporting local and regional food systems. Under the 2018 Act, mandatory funding is roughly $650 million, more than triple in real terms the amount of funding provided by the 2002 Farm Act. In addition, permanent authorization and funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) and the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentives (GSNI) Program guarantee baseline funding for these programs in future farm bills.

The Local Agriculture Market Program strengthens USDA support for helping local/regional food systems innovate in order to meet market challenges and increase efficiency as such food systems diversify and become more complex. Provisions will set aside funds for:

  • Beginning, veteran, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Farmers who adopt or modernize food safety protocols.
  • Local public-private sector partnerships and multi-stakeholder ventures that support value-chain development in local and regional food systems. Examples can include but are not limited to:
    • Local food policy councils coordinating with county government agencies and producer groups to regionalize direct marketing channels.
    • Local producers, food businesses, and institutional food buyers joining together to establish business ventures such as food hubs that overcome supply bottlenecks.
    • Geographically separated local food system enterprises partnering with university agricultural extension services in forming virtual collaborative learning networks.
    • Local producer cooperatives working with university innovation incubators and regional marketing enterprises to develop value-added products and effective marketing channels for those products.

Data from the 2015 Local Food Direct Marketing Survey published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service showed that small-scale producers who generated less than $50,000 in annual direct marketing sales represented 84 percent of the 167,000 U.S. farm operations marketing directly, but accounted for only 15 percent of the $8.74 billion in total sales marketed through local and regional food channels. This survey found that 298,000 operators (including primary and secondary operators) ran these direct-marketing farm operations, averaging 1.8 operators per farm: Of these 298,000 farm operators,

  • 23 percent were beginning farmers,
  • 38 percent were women,
  • 14 percent were military veterans, and
  • 8 percent were operators of color.