COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand access to locally grown food from underserved producers across the state.

USDA officials announced the signing of a cooperative agreement with South Carolina on Tuesday under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA), a program designed to improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.  

“USDA is excited to partner with South Carolina to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said.

Through the LFPA, South Carolina will purchase food from at least 120 farmers across the state, including at least 60 underserved and rural farmers, and distribute the food to 24 counties in need.

“This agreement is a testament to the partnerships we’ve worked hard to develop,” SCDA Commissioner Hugh Weathers said. “We worked with stakeholders across South Carolina to develop a proposal that ensures the purchase of local foods from rural and underserved farmers, as well as the distribution of local foods to underserved areas.”

Weathers added the department is “excited to get to work on this collaborative opportunity.”

In addition to partnerships with farmers and ranchers, SCDA will work with the Catawba Indian Nation to help them “distribute fresh and local foods to member households across five counties in the state.” The Catawba Indian Nation is the only federally recognized tribal nation in South Carolina.

The FLPA program is made possible through American Rescue Plan funding.