Stakeholder Announcement USDA Seeks Reviewers for Grant Programs Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program

March 14, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking reviewers to evaluate grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).  Reviewers for both programs will receive a stipend.  Applications to serve as a reviewer are available on the FMLFPP reviewer webpage and the FSMIP reviewer webpage, and are due no later than May 2, 2016.

Selected FMLFPP reviewers’ work will run approximately six weeks between June 1 and July 11, 2016.  A mandatory training webinar will take place in late May. Reviewers will be organized into teams of three and follow a pre-set scoring system.  Each person will review 15 to 20 proposals, requiring 1 to 3 hours per proposal to complete.  Reviewers will participate in an online group review to reach a consensus score and summarize comments.

Prospective FMLFPP reviewers are expected to have operational knowledge of direct-to-consumer or local/regional agricultural marketing venues, as well as a background in local agriculture, agricultural retail, or farm-to-table marketing.  Reviewers will apply their knowledge and expertise to comment on and score the grant applications.

FSMIP reviewers can include individuals from the federal government, state universities and colleges, state departments of agriculture, and other appropriate state agencies.  Reviewers are expected to have general knowledge of food/agricultural marketing, applied economics and/or experience working with and advising farmers and ranchers on some aspect of marketing.  FSMIP also seeks reviewers that have specialized knowledge on topics such as food safety, consumer economics, foreign market development, labeling, post-harvest handling, and transportation.  The FSMIP website contains a complete list of the types of expertise sought. Reviewers will apply their knowledge and expertise to score and comment on a subset of the grant applications.

FSMIP reviewers will have 4 to 5 weeks beginning in June to review up to 10 applications, each consisting of a 10-page narrative plus supporting materials.  Reviewers serve in 3-member teams to evaluate proposals grouped together by a common topic or theme.  FSMIP will schedule a conference call for selected reviewers to provide a general orientation.  Team leaders will receive additional training once the review process is underway.

Applicants for FY2016 FMLFPP or FSMIP grants are not eligible to serve as reviewers. Reviewers will not evaluate proposals for which they – or their organizations – have a conflict of interest. Reviewers must sign a conflict of interest and confidentiality agreement to refrain from sharing information about the process, the applications, and the outcomes during and after the evaluation period.

If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, please visit the FMLFPP reviewer webpage or the FSMIP application reviewer webpage.  AMS will contact selected FMLFPP reviewers in mid-May while FSMIP reviewers will be contacted in early June.