The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it is awarding over $15 million for 22 grant projects to promote the maple syrup industry and to strengthen and explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. The funding is being awarded through the Acer Access and Development Program (Acer), the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), and the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program (MGFSP).

“USDA’s investment in these grant programs will not only benefit local and regional producers, but also improve access to locally sourced food for underserved communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “We look forward to seeing the positive impacts these projects will have on the U.S. food and agricultural industry.”

Through the Acer program, AMS is awarding $6.4 million to fund 13 projects. Acer supports projects that expand consumer awareness of the maple syrup industry and provide valuable resources to maple syrup producers. This year’s funds are being distributed to nine projects aimed at improving consumer knowledge, awareness, and understanding of the maple syrup industry and its products and four projects to increase market opportunities for the domestic maple syrup industry. Acer funding is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

AMS is awarding $1.1 million to five projects through FSMIP to explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving marketing system efficiency and performance. The program supports state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate state agencies. FSMIP is funded by the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946.

The agency is awarding $7.6 million to agricultural agencies in Alaska, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and Hawaii through the MGFSP. The program funds projects that increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food through small-scale gardening, herding, and livestock operations. The recipients will subaward funding to projects that support communities that have significant levels of food insecurity and import significant quantities of food. MGFSP is funded through the 2018 Farm Bill.