Forming a More Inclusive Cooperative History

Coop Month Theme this year is Cooperative Commit: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion https://www.coopmonth.coop/

October is National Co-op Month, a celebration of cooperatives that started in 1964. The month is a time for allied organizations and co-ops to promote cooperative values and advantages. This year’s theme is “Co-ops Commit: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” which supports an important conversation about change and action in the cooperative community.

One step toward making diversity and racial equity not just an intention, but a reality, is forming an inclusive cooperative history. Including African American, Latinx, and Appalachian co-ops in U.S. cooperative history highlights the long tradition of cooperation among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities and creates an accurate understanding of the movement.

Highlighting the importance of including these histories, I selected three case studies from Appalachia, African American, and Latinx cooperatives, each of which show just the fraction of the communities’ cooperative impact.

Appalachian Cooperative Networks Before Rural Electrification

The growth of rural electric cooperatives in the 1930s and 40s brought electricity and technological advancements, such as water pumps and agricultural machines, to much of rural America. Though these coops created an electrical transformation, cooperation was familiar to many rural areas, including Appalachia. From community care to unions, Appalachians had utilized community networks to cooperate for generations.

Before the rural electrification efforts, community members and farmers in the South and Appalachia, according to the Southern Oral History Program, kept telephone networks up and running for rural areas, which was only possible through cooperation. Dema Lyall, a native Appalachian from North Carolina, born in 1918, said, “I don’t remember when we just didn’t have a telephone.” Farmers and residents worked together to provide telephones to local communities, typically working in networks of 8-10 families. In some cases, telephone lines were widely available to areas that would not see any electrification efforts until the early 1940s. The community networks that supported these local telephone lines may have supported cooperatives’ growth over corporations during the Rural Electric Administration’s campaign the 30s and 40s. The cooperative networks established before rural electric coops highlight a much longer history of cooperation in the Appalachia.

 

The Freedom Quilting Bee, Alabama 1960s

By 1967, generations of Black men and women struggled under the sharecropping economic system, where white plantation owners often bonded people to the land through debt and labor. With the Civil Rights Movement, a group of Black craftswomen in Alabama sought to leave sharecropping and generate independent income with an increasingly popular commodity: quilts.

Started by a group of Black women near Selma, Alabama, the Freedom Quilting Bee collectively quilted cloth scraps into usable blankets. They hoped to generate individual income for their sharecropper spouses, families, and themselves. However, as Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard found, these women not only supported their families, but also promoted community economic stability. The Freedom Quilting Bee bought 23 acres of land, provided housing for evicted farmers, formed childcare cooperatives, and supported community solidarity, fostering growing support from within the cooperative and the community.

The Freedom Quilting Bee Coop highlights how Black women regained economic control through cooperation. When the traditional socioeconomic parameters oppressed these craftswomen, they mobilized collective power for themselves and the community. By including the quilting bee cooperative in the American cooperative movement’s history, the real economic advantage and community stability that cooperation offers to members becomes clearer.

Exploring Latinx Cooperatives

In a recent study, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives explored the growing cooperative movement in Latinx communities. In Latinx Co-op Power in the U.S.Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard and Esther West reveal a rich and expansive network of 180 Latinx cooperatives. Though Latinx cooperative history has not been studied in the American movement, Latin American communities across North America have a strong tradition of cooperation.

In their sample survey, Nembhard and West uncovered that most Latinx coops are urban and suburban, with nearly 89% located in urban areas. From credit unions to agriculture and food co-ops, there were Latinx cooperatives in every sector. The results also revealed that most coops were younger businesses, with only two Latinx co-ops formed before 2000. Between 2004 and 2020, Latinx cooperative numbers skyrocketed, with 14 developing within the last five years. Though the 180 cooperatives surveyed does not depict the entire Latinx co-op community, the study makes important strides in Latinx co-op development and efforts to integrate them into the national cooperative movement history.

 

The diversity of cooperatives in the United States has expanded tenfold with recent studies; however, these cooperators are often overlooked in history. Though many are familiar with the Rochdale pioneers, perhaps a more inclusive history of American cooperation should begin with indigenous networks of cooperation, such as John Curl’s For All The People. With the addition of BIPOC and underserved communities, the history of the U.S. cooperative movement becomes both more inclusive and accurate.

Still time to enjoy OSU Farm Science Review learning sessions and field demonstrations

The weather was not a factor for this year’s Farm Science Review (FSR) hosted by the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The virtual FSR allowed viewers to sit at their farm office desk, easy chair, tractor seat, or classroom to participate in the many educational offerings.  This was the 58th annual FSR, but due to COVID-19 health concerns, it was the first one held entirely online.

According to FSR manager Nick Zachrich, the virtual event was a success, with the FSR website recording more than 40,000 visits according to initial statistics.  Zachrich pointed out that number does not include additional people who were watching on a shared screen.

While you may not have had the chance to engage with the events on the FSR website during the official dates of the show September 22-24, many of the educational sessions, field demonstrations, and scheduled events were recorded, so you can still access the them on the FSR website https://fsr.osu.edu/.  You can find sessions from more than 120 speakers, 17 field demonstrations, and more than 100 new products and technologies. Take a bit of time to browse the selections and find some topics of interest that might benefit you in your farm operation or business.

Beef Co-op’s Marketing Efforts Offer Insights for Local Food Entrepreneurs

For every business, getting marketing right is key. For food entrepreneurs selling directly to consumers at farmer’s markets, farm stands, online, in grocery stores, and via subscriptions, telling their story through marketing is vital to reaching their target customer demographic to enhance sales. But how do food entrepreneurs — especially those selling locally produced products through local supply chains –know which marketing channels to use?

The farmer-owners of Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative, a young co-op marketing locally raised beef in southwest Ohio, set out to answer that question. They wanted to know how they could maximize their marketing efforts to generate new customers and sales for their farmer-owners. In 2019, the co-op proposed and was awarded a project to the 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Farmer/Rancher grant program. Their project would help the co-op develop, implement, and then measure the effectiveness of four new advertising channels: Google ads, billboards, radio advertisements, and Facebook ads. The co-op placed their ads, some of which were created in consultation with marketing professionals at the companies they purchased advertising through, and then tracked whether their efforts translated into new customer orders. What they learned can offer insights to other local food producers, particularly those selling meat.

Readers can learn more about the project, the co-op’s experiences, and the results in a presentation by a founding member of the co-op available above as a part of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences online Farm Science Review.

What Did the Co-op Learn?

  • Facebook ads and radio ads on the local public radio channel were the most effective new advertising channels the co-op tested. Facebooks ads resulted in an astounding 10900% return on the dollars invested in the channel. Also, co-op members were surprised to learn that radio ads resulted in an 85% return on their investment.
  • Some new advertising channels took a lot of time and energy to learn. The co-op relies on volunteer labor and they took a team approach to implementing the new advertising methods. Even so, learning the ins-and-outs of utilizing certain channels took a significant time investment.
  • Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing strategy for the co-op. Sales from customers who reported learning about the cooperative by word of mouth dwarfed sales generated from customers who reported finding out about the co-op through one of the new advertising channels. This reinforces the idea that food entrepreneurs should ensure they are paying close attention to customer experiences and creating ways for their customers to share their excitement about their products.

About Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative

Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative was formed in 2016 by southwest Ohio farmers who wanted to expand their markets for locally raised beef and to increase their farmer incomes. The co-op markets beef to retailers and directly to consumers. You can learn more about the cooperative via the video, Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative: Our Story  The co-op’s farmer members were supported by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives in their start-up and the development of their SARE proposal.

Kline joins the Center for Cooperative Team

 

Ryan Kline will be the new Cooperative Development Specialist for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.  Kline will be collaborating with staff at OSU South Centers, Ohio State University Extension, West Virginia University Extension Services, USDA Rural Development, and other rural economic development organizations to create and deploy programming to support the mission, goals, and priorities of the Center. Kline’s previous experience working with county extension offices, private foundations, and museums, helped him to develop a passion for collaboration, youth, and economic development, and forming new programs to educate leaders in agriculture. Ryan is excited to join a dynamic team that strives for the development and support of cooperatives across the region.

Kline has been active in agriculture, including 4-H and FFA his entire life. Born and raised on a fifth-generation family farm in Ross County, Ohio, and Appalachian agriculture deeply impacted his personal and professional life. In college, his passion for agriculture and history joined. In the Spring of 2020, Kline received his Master’s degree in History at Auburn University, focusing on the history of Agriculture and Labor.  He also received his BA in History at Ohio University.

You can reach Ryan at kline.375@osu.edu or at 740.289.2071.

 

Foodpreneur Coaching: Crafting a Blueprint to Grow Your Food and Farm Business

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is working to help businesses keep things moving forward in these difficult times. Marketing is a key aspect to maintaining or growing any business, including food and farm businesses.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau in Ross, Hocking, Fairfield, and Pickaway counties are hosting a virtual interactive experience for small and medium food entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses. Foodpreneur School Coaching will give attendees an opportunity to engage with experts in marketing and promoting their local food and farm products, and more, to help them learn strategies to meet their growth goals. This educational opportunity will cover marketing locally raised meat, increasing produce sales, and promoting local food and farm retail products.

Foodpreneur School Coaching will be offered over a three-week span, in three sessions, and will focus on ways to grow food and farm businesses. Entrepreneurs can attend one session that best fits their needs or all three sessions. Each live Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session will offer small group coaching from industry and university experts.

The first session, Marketing Local Meat, will be offered on Tuesday, September 15th.  This LIVE Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session is for farmers and ranchers seeking to increase local and regional meat sales or explore new market channels for farm-raised proteins and local meat products.

Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative, a southwest Ohio co-op that markets member-farmers’ beef to retailers and consumers, will share results from a recent research project to assess multiple marketing channels to grow sales. Co-op members will share their experiences marketing local meat throughout the region. Additionally, Dr. Lyda Garcia, Animal Science professor at The Ohio State University, will be available to offer insights and answer participant questions.  Garcia specializes in meat science and manages the OSU Meat Lab.  Through her background in meat industry internships, livestock production, training and research in graduate school, and many other meat related experiences, she seeks to bring product value to the meat industry, producers, and consumers.

The second session, Increase Produce Sales, will be offered on Tuesday, September 22nd.  This session will offer insights and best practices for produce growers looking to increase produce sales or explore new market channels such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers markets, farm stands, or specialty stores.

Brad Bergefurd, Ohio State University Extension Horticulture Specialist, and owner of Bergefurd’s Farm Market, will share his expertise built over 30 years of experience in produce education, production, and marketing.  Bergefurd’s education and research at OSU has focused on a variety of produce crops, including strawberries, pumpkins, hops, pawpaws, and more, in addition to research and education on marketing innovations like produce auctions.  Bergefurd’s Farm has specialized in growing a variety of produce that is sold through CSA’s, farmers markets, and an agritourism operation.  In the planning of this session Bergefurd stated that, “Produce farmers have many channels of marketing opportunities available today more than ever. Marketing is less expensive, and online options now allow farmers to reach customers in areas they never were able to reach before these marketing channels became available.  It’s all in how you market yourself, so it’s important to get it right”, said Bergefurd.

The third session, Promoting your Local Food, will be offered on Tuesday, September 29th.In this session, educators and industry experts, will discuss how farm and food producers making products such as cheese, salsa, honey, baked goods, and body items, can expand a farm’s offerings  or serve as a standalone business. During the live Foodpreneur Business Coaching session attendees will learn how to expand their sales and build their brand.

A large part of growing any business is effective marketing to keep customers engaged. Christie Welch, Ohio State University Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and owner/operator of Welch Farms LLC, explains that marketing is key to keeping customers engaged with your business, especially in the current environment of the pandemic. Welch shared that, “Customers are craving experiences and seeking the locally produced foods they have come to love.  Because of the rapid changes in how business is conducted while maintaining social distancing, communicating with your customers is more important now than ever.  They want to know what you are doing to keep them safe while still purchasing the local foods they love. Sharing this information in a manner that reflects your brand is key.”

Christie Welch is the owner/operator of Welch Farms, LLC, a third-generation family farm in southern Ohio.  Christie has been involved in the operation since 1992 and during that time, the farm has diversified.  The farm, which began as a dairy operation, has diversified over the years and currently focuses on u-pick plasticulture strawberries.  The farm also sold at several farmers’ markets and Christie served on the board of the Chillicothe Farmers Market Association for seven years.  Direct marketing to consumers is vital to Welch Farms and provides many opportunities to share experiences with other local food producers.

Foodpreneur School Coaching sessions will all be held online and will be offered over a span of three weeks with each session held on a Tuesday evening.  The cost to attend the Foodpreneur School Coaching is $20 per session for Farm Bureau members, and $25 per session for non-Farm Bureau members. There is a separate registration for each session.  We encourage early registration; each session will have a limited number of seats available. To learn more, go to https://cooperatives.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/events or to register for the Foodpreneur School Coaching you can go to go.osu.edu/foodschool2020.  For additional information you may contact Charissa Gardner at gardner.1148@osu.edu.

Finding Innovative Approaches to Co-op Annual Meetings During a Pandemic

Co-op principle seven: “Concern for community.” With this in mind, many co-ops are considering the health and safety of their members when deciding whether to postpone or attempt to hold annual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Holding annual meetings while respecting social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19 can seem challenging for co-ops. The democratic process is important to cooperatives and members have the right to vote for your board of directors at the annual meeting. Directors make decisions on the members’ behalf, so it is important for members to stay engaged and cast their votes. Below are some ideas that your co-op might consider if your annual meeting needs to occur before large gatherings are once again permitted in your area.

As a co-op board is exploring options for virtual meetings, online voting, and other innovative approaches, they should understand whether the co-op’s bylaws allow for a virtual meeting, electronic voting, or other types of non-traditional meetings. It is always advised that the board seek the advice of the co-op’s attorney to be sure they are within the parameters of what their co-op bylaws allow.

Virtual Meetings – A co-op board can explore their options to authorize a virtual member meeting. With a commitment to maintaining the health and safety of members and employees, and following Ohio Governor Mike Dewine’s directives regarding coronavirus, the Consolidated Cooperative board of trustees decided to hold their 2020 annual meeting virtually, and provided a link to the meeting via SmartHub, the app that provides utility and telecommunications customers account management at their fingertips. The annual meeting notice with log-in details was sent to members using the application, which also allows customers to view their usage and billing, manage payments, and notify customer service of account and service issues. Cooperatives might also consider options for providing online streaming of a business meeting, with one of the more popular options being Zoom.

Electronic Voting – A co-op board may be able to authorize electronic voting in conjunction with an annual member meeting. There are free and reasonably priced options for online voting, such as Election Runner which is great for small cooperatives and uses a unique identifier for each person voting.  Election Runner allows up to 20 voters for free and it is only $15 for up to 100 voters

Drive-in meeting –Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some cooperatives have found unique ways to host annual member meetings that adhere to physical distancing guidelines. One electric co-op in Wisconsin held a drive-in annual meeting with members listening to the proceedings on the local radio station and honking to signal votes of approval.  Planning the annual meeting without meeting face-to-face themselves, the board and staff of the Wisconsin co-op did not know what kind of response to expect, and even offered bill credits to the first 50 members in attendance to ensure a quorum. Many co-op leaders may be concerned about their members’ ability to participate in online meetings when their community has limited access to reliable high-speed internet. Holding a drive-in meeting might offer an internet-free solution that could even be fun.

These are all options that cooperatives can consider for ensuring they are upholding cooperative principles through their annual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have seen other innovative approaches, feel free to share!

If you would like to cooperate with the Center for Cooperatives at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at Ohio State, please email us at osucooperatives@osu.edu or visit our website at go.osu.edu/cooperatives.

2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference Will Offer Professionals Opportunity to Learn About the Co-op Economy

Conference registration table.

The 2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference convened by Advocates for Basic Legal Equity and co-sponsored by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives will be held online on June 5, 2020.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is pleased to be co-sponsoring the 2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference in our region on June 5, 2020. The virtual conference will be organized around the theme, “The Legal Life of a Cooperative,” and will feature attorneys and developers sharing their expertise on worker co-op start-ups and transitions, cooperative financing, and regional cooperative development strategies. Attorneys, aspiring-attorneys, and others who are interested in learning more about cooperatives and collaborative enterprises will surely find value in the conference’s eight sessions featuring twelve speakers.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, along with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids, and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, are sponsoring the event, which will focus on regional efforts in southwest Ohio, but will be applicable across geographies. Attorneys in Ohio will be able to receive up to five hours of CLE credit for the conference (application pending). Registration for the event is $60.

Co-sponsoring the event is another way the Center is helping to build the community of professionals who support cooperatives in our region. In 2019, the Center surveyed attorneys, accountants, and tax professionals who work with cooperative and collaborative enterprises, building a directory to help the cooperative community locate such expertise. Visit the Center’s Cooperative and Collaborative Enterprises Legal and Accounting Directory.

Broad Thinking: Why the co-op model could be a key to closing the broadband gap

An individual working at a computer.

The current public health crisis has moved many of life’s daily tasks online. Without reliable internet, some rural communities are at risk of being left behind.

The impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency are vast and varied. While we recognize and thank the many people who continue to do the essential jobs of feeding, moving, and caring for America in person, many Americans are now working, learning, and connecting online. Everyday tasks like work meetings, classes, grocery shopping, religious services, doctor’s appointments, hangouts with friends, and more, have moved online. But what happens when you don’t have reliable internet access at home? Millions of rural Americans faced this question long before the current public health crisis and in our current context, the broadband divide between urban and rural America has become more pronounced than ever.

Connected Nation Ohio, an organization that studies and provides resources for rural broadband connection, estimates that approximately 710,000 Ohioans do not have internet access at home. That doesn’t include people who have internet access that is unreliable or prohibitively slow. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that almost 30 million Americans are “unable to reap the benefits of the digital age.” In 2017, the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity recognized the expansion of high-speed, high-capacity internet as a key infrastructure priority in rural America. Beth Ford, Chief Executive Officer of Land O’ Lakes, one of the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives, has highlighted the far-reaching effects of the problem and called for significant infrastructure investments in broadband, reminding people that, “there is a shared destiny between urban and rural America.”

Cooperatives are not new to problem-solving on behalf of rural Americans. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, in the mid-1930’s as many as 90% of rural homes lacked electricity. By 1953, more than 90% of America’s farms had electricity. This transformation was the result of the rapid growth of rural electric cooperatives, which currently provide electricity to 56% of the nation’s landmass and over 20 million member-owners. Co-ops are owned and controlled by their users and provide services to member-owners at cost. Today, nearly 100 rural electric cooperatives are investing in infrastructure to bring high speed internet to their member-owners.

In some communities, the cooperative model is being explored anew to determine whether a community-owned enterprise can help close the broadband gap. Groups are coming together to assess whether they can form cooperatives to invest in the infrastructure to connect their homes and businesses to broadband service providers. The enterprises would be controlled by community members through an elected board of directors.

Community members in Washington County, Ohio have begun exploring options for a community-owned broadband enterprise. David Brown, who is leading the Southeast Ohio Broadband Cooperative Exploratory along with additional volunteers from the community, explains, “Most areas have no broadband access at all and rely on slow, expensive and unreliable technologies like cellular hotspots and satellite internet.” After conversations with elected leaders, local economic developers, and others, the group surveyed the community about their current broadband access and interest in joining a broadband co-op. They started engaging with community members via a Facebook group where they share updates and information. The group has over 925 members after just three weeks. While they have a lot of work ahead to develop their co-op, David Brown shares that the group’s vision is to, “bring affordable, reliable broadband access to rural areas in SE Ohio that will create economic opportunities, connect communities and encourage members to be a part of the solution to a problem that has long plagued the area.”

When exploring a cooperative model in any industry, it is vital to explore the feasibility of an enterprise and to develop robust business plans. At the same time, organizers should educate their potential members on the co-op model and help them understand their role in a newly formed business. The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State has been assisting new and emerging cooperatives since 2001, helping groups understand the co-op model, explore the feasibility of a new co-op, develop the business plans and structure for a new enterprise, and more.

If you would like to learn more about broadband cooperatives or to explore an opportunity for community-owned enterprises in your community, contact the CFAES Center for Cooperatives!

Cooperatives Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Assistance

 

Cooperative businesses experiencing financial issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive assistance through two major programs of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Payroll Protection Program

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), providing $349 billion for small business loans for qualified payroll costs, rent, utilities, and interest on mortgages and other debt obligations. PPP loan amounts are forgivable as long as:

  • Loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8-week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) and National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) have shared that cooperative businesses in agriculture, purchasing, consumer food, and worker cooperatives that meet the size criteria, generally with fewer than 500 employees, are eligible for this program based on the interim rule and Department guidance.

Applicants can apply to the PPP through eligible Small Business Administration lenders beginning Friday, April 3, 2020. Applicants will be required to submit an application and payroll documentation. To find an eligible SBA lending institution, tap or click here.

For a factsheet about the PPP, including information about loan terms, interest rates, and repayment periods, tap or click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to COVID-19.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. are eligible to apply for an EIDL advance of up to $10,000 for businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance does not have to be repaid and will be made available within three days of a successful application, even if the loan is not approved or if it is approved and not taken.

Cooperative businesses with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for the EIDL program.

To learn more about the EIDL program, including information about interest rates, loan terms, use of loan funds, and the application process tap or click here. Applicants to the EIDL program can apply directly to the SBA.

To learn more about applying to the EIDL program as a cooperative business, watch this webinar, “Demystifying SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans,” hosted by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA).

Cooperate with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives

  • Visit us online at go.osu.edu/cooperatives
  • Follow us on Twitter @OSUCooperatives
  • Like us on Facebook @OhioStateCooperatives

Learn more about the Mid America Cooperative Council

Grant Resources for Food Enterprises

A basket of vegetables, including carrots, onions, and beets. Food enterprises and organizations,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has multiple grant funding opportunities to develop or expand food system enterprises with the goals of increasing access to local or regionally produced foods and enhancing marketing opportunities for agricultural producers.

If you are interested in learning more or in developing an application, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives can assist with grant development and review. Please note that our staff do not write grants on behalf of projects. Contact us at scott.1220@osu.edu bauman.67@osu.edu.

Farmers Market Promotion Program

“FMPP funds projects that develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.”

Eligible entities:  Agricultural businesses and cooperatives; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks and associations; food councils; economic development corporations; local governments; nonprofit and public benefit corporations; producer networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities; tribal governments.

Deadline to apply: May 26, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here. Learn more in this short video from USDA.

Local Food Promotion Program

“LFPP funds projects that develop, coordinate, and expand local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products.”

Eligible entities:  Agricultural businesses and cooperatives; Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks and associations; food councils; economic development corporations; local governments; nonprofit and public benefit corporations; producer networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities; tribal governments.

Deadline to apply: May 26, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here. Learn more in this short video from USDA.

Regional Food System Partnerships

“The RFSP supports partnerships that connect public and private resources to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The RFSP focuses on building and strengthening local or regional food economy viability and resilience by alleviating unnecessary administrative and technical barriers for participating partners.”

Eligible partnerships must include at least one eligible entity and at least one eligible partner.

Eligible entities include: producers; producer networks or associations; farmers or rancher cooperatives; majority controlled producer-based business ventures; food councils; local or tribal governments; nonprofit corporations; economic development corporations; public benefit corporations; community supported agriculture networks or associations; regional farmers’ market authorities.

Eligible partners include: state agencies or regional authorities; philanthropic organizations; private corporations; institutions of higher education; Commercial, Federal, or Farm Credit System lending institutions.

Deadline to apply: May 26, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time

For more information, click here. For the Request for Applications, click here.

You can explore additional grant opportunities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service here and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture here.