Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced 85 grants totaling $3,445,000 directed by the new farm bill to spread the use of farmers markets.

Eighteen of the 85 grants promote a new electronic benefit transfers (EBT) to help low-income consumers buy locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

"Farmers markets are an increasingly popular source of fruits and vegetables," said Schafer. "Locally grown and locally known sales of fresh produce strengthen the connection between farmers and the community."

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service helps increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities and improve farmers' income. The grants are authorized under the amended Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976.

Regional local governments, non-profit and economic development corporations, agricultural cooperatives and tribal governments in 43 states may use the money to establish, expand and promote farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.