My latest investigation for Civil Eats is not so much alarming as predictable. The current presidential administration, already an international laughingstock, has targeted farmers markets for elimination. The punishment? Death by pointless cuts.
America’s current farm bill expires at the end of September 2018, leaving less than a year before lawmakers could begin to make cuts to a variety of federal programs affecting food and farming. And, despite America’s growing love for farmers’ markets, it’s looking unlikely that the Farmer Markets Promotion Program (FMPP) will be prioritized in the coming bill.
Operating with just five full-time employees on an annual budget of $15 million drawn from the 2014 Farm Bill, FMPP awards competitive grants that “support outreach and promotional activities that help direct producer-to-consumer markets become self-sustaining and be repeated in communities across the country,” according the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the program. Since it was first funded in 2006, the FMPP has helped the number of farmers’ markets in the U.S. more than double from around 3,000 to over 8,600.