The U.S. Department of Agriculture is releasing about $1.2 million in grants through the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking proposals from state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations and other state agencies for the matching grant funds by the March 23 deadling, according to a USDA news release.

The grant money will support “research projects that help market, transport and distribute U.S. agricultural products domestically and internationally,” according to the release. One stipulation is that federal funds must be matched by non-federal funds or in-kind resources.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in the release that the agency is particularly interested in proposals involving collaboration among states, academia, producers and other stakeholders and go beyond one state’s boundaries.

The AMS awards about 25 grants each year; previous projects in the program are on the USDA’s website. In fiscal year 2011, 25 projects were funded in 19 states with an average grant of about $53,000. For example, the USDA in fiscal year 2011, the USDA gave $55,373 to the Georgia Department of Agriculture to increase use of state-run, nonprofit and community farmers’ markets to boost supplies of locally grown produce.

Applications are available online and can be e-mailed to janise.zygmont@ams.usda.gov.