The Department of Agriculture Tuesday awarded $11.2 million to 22 grant projects to strengthen and explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. The funding comes from USDA Agricultural Marketing Service programs. Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, says, â€œUSDA is excited about funding projects that improve access to fresh, locally sourced food and strengthen market opportunities for local and regional producers.â€ Through the Acer Access and Development Program, USDA is awarding $5.9 million to fund 12 projects. Acer projects aim to improve consumer knowledge, awareness and understanding of the maple syrup industry and its products. Through the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program, USDA is awarding more than $1 million to five projects to explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agriculture. And through the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program, USDA is awarding $4.4 million to agencies in Alaska, Hawaii, and other territories to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food.