While Montana is a large producer of commodity crop the availability of locally grown food products is limited in supply. This is largely an issue of the rural nature of the state, challenging weather conditions and lack of scale among purchasers. Because the state is predominantly underserved due to its rural character, LFPA creates a unique opportunity to address these issues. Specifically, we believe LFPA can be used not only as a tool to ensure that more Montana food is ending up on the plates of Montanans, but also to initiate long term buyer-seller relationships that will grow our local food economy.
Through this project Montana Department of Agriculture will subaward funds to organizations statewide to increase the distribution of local food from and to underserved constituencies, and to facilitate the establishment of business relationships between underserved farmers and food purchasers in underserved communities. The primary objective of sub awardees will be to identify or organize producers or groups of producers in sizes to provide sufficient volume and capacity to serve underserved areas. Once producer groups are identified, funding will be used to supplement the cost of distributing food into underserved communities. The objective in supplementing food purchases is to connect underserved producers with underserved communities, while also working to establish business relationships that will carry on into the future. Montana Department of Agriculture will facilitate the collection of best practices for dissemination to other underserved producers and communities.
Outcomes of this project will be the distribution of local food from and to underserved constituencies, the organization of producer groups, establishment of business relationships with underserved communities, and identification of best business practices. Our goal is that at least 25% of matched sellers and buyers will establish long term, sustainable, business relationships.