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USDA signs pact with South Carolina

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service recently announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with South Carolina under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture uses the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Programto purchase and distribute locally grown, produced, and processed food from underserved producers.

“USDA is excited to partner with South Carolina to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will work with a network of distributors and farmers to purchase food from at least 120 farmers, including at least 60 underserved and rural farmers and ranchers, and distribute the food to at least 24 counties in need. Additionally, the agency will partner with the Catawba Indian Nation, the only federally recognized tribal nation in South Carolina, to further increase the impact of program funding and to reach members of the Nation.

The agency also will work with other third-party partners to assist in the development and management of the program, including evaluation of the program’s results, and expects to facilitate further market development for farmers that will be sustained beyond the funding period.

“This agreement is a testament to the partnerships we’ve worked hard to develop. We worked with stakeholders across South Carolina to develop a proposal that ensures the purchase of local foods from rural and underserved farmers, as well as the distribution of local foods to underserved areas. We’re excited to get to work on this collaborative effort,” said Commissioner Hugh E. Weathers.

The program is authorized by the American Rescue Plan to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency. Through this program, USDA will award up to $400 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments to support local, regional, and underserved producers through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination.

The marketing service looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program that allows state and tribal governments to procure and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious, and unique to their geographic area.

More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.

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