WASHINGTON, D.C. 11/06/2023 – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a $263,939.46 investment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support two local food networks in Athens, Ohio that are dedicated to making local produce accessible and connecting farmers with new, local markets. The investments are made possible by the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), which was created in the 2018 Farm Bill through Brown’s Local FARMS Act.

“Ohioans shouldn’t have to buy apples from Washington when they could get them from Athens County, or vegetables from Mexico when they could get them from a local community market,” said Sen. Brown. “These investments are made possible by our success in past Farm Bills and will ensure Southern Ohio farmers have the tools and support they need to sell their products in their own communities.”

Awards from the Department of Agriculture include:

  • $213,360.37 to the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks to develop a peer learning network for community markets to improve their capacity and ability to connect local farmers with local consumers.
  • $50,579.09 to Community Food Initiatives to bolster and expand their Veggie Van project which provides access to locally grown food for geographically isolated communities in Athens County.

“The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) is once again delighted to secure USDA Local Food Promotion Program investment to facilitate peer learning amongst premier market innovators as part of the Community and Commerce: Cultivating Market Capacity through Peer Exchange project,” said Leslie Schaller Director of Programs at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. “As partners and Ohio leaders, the Keller Market House and Local Roots Market and Café have designed replicable models to expand locally controlled and operated retail food enterprises to revitalize rural communities and main streets. ACEnet will convene market managers and stakeholders in Ohio and West Virginia to strengthen regional food economies that create fair food systems for all.”

“We are looking forward to working with our project partners, including the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) and the Athens County Public Libraries, to increase the positive impact of the Veggie Van program while fulfilling the purpose of the Farmers Market Promotion Program to increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products in the communities we serve,” said Maribeth Saleem-Tanner, Executive Director of Community Food Initiatives. “This project offers CFI an incredible opportunity to build on the success of the Veggie Van program and engage even more community members, local farm businesses, and nonprofit organizations to support healthy, sustainable communities that are nourished by a thriving and inclusive local food system here in Southeast Ohio.”

As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Brown is fighting for policies and programs that make it easier for Ohio family farmers to sell their products locally. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Brown has led efforts to ensure LAMP has adequate funding so that Ohio communities can access the program and successfully championed the inclusion of an additional $20.4 million for LAMP in this year’s recently passed Agriculture Appropriations bill.

Brown is working to expand LAMP by working to include his Local Farms and Food Act in the next farm bill. He is the first Ohio senator to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years.

Full press release: https://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/sherrod-brown-announces-new-investment-expand