In recent years, the farm-to-table movement has affected virtually every major community in the country, with the ongoing development and popularity of local farmer's markets, specialty grocery stores, and even special programs in local schools or businesses.
Clearly, Americans have recognized the benefits of eating fresh, eating local, and eating well, and some families have even taken the next step and started to plot out their own side business or family farms, to grow and sell their own natural wares.
Regardless of whether you're growing the greens yourself or just picking them up at the local farmer's market, however, the federal government has a number of grant programs that target all aspects of the agricultural process, from the initial farm start up, to inspection, to making sure fresh fruits and veggies get to their deserving communities.
Families and farmers who are currently operating or planning to start their own commercial farm will find several low interest loans available through the federal government to help them along the way. The Farm Operating Loans and Farm Ownership Loans programs, specifically, assist farmers in need with funds to apply to a number of farming expenses, such as improving or purchasing farmland, constructing or repairing structures, or covering the costs of varying operating expenses. While these grants must be paid back at some future date, they certainly come in handy for farmers who are having off years, need a little help improving their farming conditions, or just need a hand getting started.
Occasionally, seasonal droughts, storms, or even economical climates will affect an annual crop, and grants are available to offset these often surprise and unexpected setbacks. Most well-known, arguably, is the Tobacco Loss Assistance Program, which helps tobacco farmers who have seen production numbers dwindle over the past several decades. But other individualized programs are available as well to address a myriad of issues, like the Special Apple Program which responds to the economic impact on farmers due to the nationally low cost of apples. Farmers that are affected by droughts, floods, federal disasters or other economic climate shifts need only search for the product or disaster coverage grants that address their specific loss.
To ensure that Americans are receiving the best quality fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and other agricultural products, there are also a number of federal grants that are targeted towards research, soil and water conservation, and regular inspections. Generally geared towards states and organizations, these grants ensure that the quality of food that lands on the tables of consumers is always at its best.
Finally, the federal government also takes steps to ensure that quality produce and meats are reaching the public, regardless of area or income level. Federal grants like the John Ogonowski Farmer-To-Farmer Program allows American technological advances to be shared with farmers from around the globe, while programs like the Farm To School Training And Technical Assistance grant helps implement farm to school programs across the country, and improve access to local foods in eligible schools.
Happily, the federal government has kept pace with Americans' growing demand for fresh and local food, and thanks to a number of federal grants that address every aspect of the national agricultural industry, consumers will most likely be able to enjoy a farm-to-table lifestyle for generations to come. From providing the loans that ensures a small family farm succeeds, to ensuring that their products reach the public, fresh fruit and veggie lovers can rest assured that as the weather heats up, the supply of local produce will be ample and available in virtually all communities.