- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $35 million in federal grants to support farmers markets and other local farm programs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday the distribution of funds allocated in last year’s farm bill to hundreds of local food marketing programs.

Iowa farmers market promotion grants include $97,000 for Fort Dodge, $61,000 for Belmond and $35,000 for Creston.

The North Iowa Fresh food hub in Belmond gets nearly $100,000 to expand.

The Nebraska Food Cooperative in Belgrade receives nearly $100,000 to develop and promote a local food supply network.

The USDA says purchases of locally-produced food have reached nearly $12 billion as farmers increase direct sales to local grocers, institutions and restaurants.

The number of farmers markets has surged to more than 8,500 from 5,200 in 2009.

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