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Grant to help Montana farmers markets

National Center for Appropriate Technology awarded grant to continue Montana farmers market development

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News from the National Center for Appropriate Technology

MONTANA — To help Montana farmers markets and direct market farmers build capacity and sustain success, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, headquartered in Butte, was awarded a 2020 Farmers Market Promotional Program grant from the USDA-Agricultural Market Service in the amount of $455,401. 

NCAT was one of 49 national recipients and the only organization in Montana to receive a 2020 grant. It funds three years of project activities that began in December.

This is a continuation of NCAT’s work with farmers markets from an FMPP award in 2016, titled Building Farmers Market Success. The initial grant focused on developing a farmers market network by providing state-wide and regional network meetings, trainings and developing farmers market manager resources. 

The newly awarded FMPP, entitled Sustaining Farmers Market Success, will enable NCAT to continue to organize an annual networking meeting for farmers market managers and their stakeholders as well as developing specific resources and trainings for farmers market vendors. 

NCAT will partner with the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition, Alternative Energy Resources Organization, the Montana Department of Agriculture, and the Farmers Market Coalition to implement grant activities. 

In addition to resources, trainings, and networking meetings, the FMPP will fund a study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana to understand the economic impact of Farmers Markets in Montana. The results of the study will be used to develop state policies and programs to further support farmers markets. 

There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana, according to the Montana Department of Agriculture, with over 20 markets offering SNAP and Double SNAP Dollars that allow low-income residents access to healthy, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and farm products. NCAT’s FMPP also funds technical assistance to farmers markets who seek to become SNAP authorized.  

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many Montana businesses to close in the spring of 2020. With advocacy and guidance from The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition, Governor Bullock’s office deemed farmers markets as essential businesses because they provide much-needed staple grocery items and agricultural products to consumers. Aided by the informal farmers market network developed from NCAT’s previous FMPP work, market managers were able to quickly adopt social distancing guidelines for vendors and shoppers and increase sanitation practices in an effort to promote their local economies and to remain open for shoppers of all income levels at a time when access to healthy food was more important than ever. 

To find a Farmers Market near you, visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.

Since 1976, the National Center for Appropriate Technology has been helping people by championing small-scale, local and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty, promote healthy communities and protect natural resources. More information about its programs and services is available at www.ncat.org or by calling 1-800-ASK-NCAT.

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