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 rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_gar.html.

Information about the farmers market grants is available at goo.gl/3u4qL

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


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