The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it is tripling the grant money available nationally to farmers and farmers markets, from $10 million to $30 million. The money is available through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, claimed credit for the increase because of reforms she helped write in the reauthorized Farm Bill, which was signed into law earlier this year.

“This is a huge victory for Maine farmers, as well as consumers who value buying food directly from the people who produce it,” she said in a press release. “The funding greatly increases the help farmers receive to reach new customers and get their products to market.”

The USDA Rural Development division also is awarding $48 million in loan guarantees for local food projects through the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. The financing can support food hubs, small-scale processing facilities, cold storage and distribution networks. Information is available at

Information about the farmers market grants is available at

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of MaineToday Media.

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