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June 13, 2002   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
June 13, 2002

"WASHINGTON, D.C." Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced additional funding for the operation of USDA's Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). Alabama received $912,246 or the $35.9 million awarded.

FMNP provides a direct tie between nutrition and production agriculture by giving women and children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) the opportunity to buy fresh local produce directly from farmers. The FMNP not only improves the diets of WIC participants, but also is designed to expand awareness and use of farmers' markets.

The SFMNP, established as a pilot program in 2001, will continue to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers' markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. The program is intended to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding or aiding in the development of these outlets, in addition to providing fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs to low-income seniors.

"We are committed to the larger goal of working toward reducing hunger and improving nutrition for low-income families, children and seniors.  Through these programs, WIC moms and their children, as well as our senior citizens, will be able to improve their diets by adding fresh produce to their meals," said Veneman.

Due to the FMNP, over two million WIC moms and children ate more fresh fruits and vegetables last year, and almost 17,000 farmers around the country realized over $21 million in market sales, helping to keep their farming businesses growing. Funding requests for the current year totaled approximately $21 million, leaving $4 million for potential expansion requests this year.

The SFMNP is expected to serve almost 400,000 low-income senior citizens through grants to state agencies and Indian Tribal governments. This year, coupons for fresh produce will be accepted by about 3,500 farmers at nearly 2,000 markets, roadside stands or CSA programs.

"For many participants, the program offers their first opportunity to visit a farmers' market and learn about the benefits of adding fresh produce to their meals," said Eric M. Bost, under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

The enactment of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 -- the Farm Bill -- allows USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to continue its efforts in supporting the nation's small farmers by providing SFMNP grants to 32 states, 3 Indian Tribal Organizations and the District of Columbia during the 2002 season. The WIC's FMNP will be operating in 44 state agencies--36 states, 5 Indian Tribal Organizations, Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia during the 2002 season. The 2002 Farm Bill provided an additional $20 million--$5 million for SFMNP; $15 million for WIC's FMNP--bringing the total available funding for FY 2002 to $40 million.

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