To boost fruit & veggie consumption, USDA awards $55 mil in specialty crop grants

To boost fruit & veggie consumption, USDA awards $55 mil in specialty crop grants

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Dover, DE, Sept. 17 - USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the award of block grants Friday to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture. Merrigan announced the awards at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NACD) annual meeting in Delaware.

“We are pleased to support diverse efforts to help specialty crop growers market their products in a global marketplace and encourage all Americans to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption,” said Merrigan. “These grants are instrumental in helping specialty crop growers tackle the issues they are facing today.”

The 54 grants announced Friday total approximately $55 million, and will fund 827 projects, a 10 percent increase over last year. The aim is to support the competitiveness of specialty crops and America's specialty crop farmers. The funds will be used by the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Summaries of all awards can be viewed at www.ams.usda.gov/scbgp

The block grants benefit specialty crop growers and consumers as well. For example, one block grant recipient is partnering with a university to determine if E. coli 0157:H7 can be transferred by dust or wind from cattle production areas to leafy green produce crops. Another recipient is partnering with an agency to coordinate a Farm to School program where school districts will purchase specialty crops from a variety of growers for direct use in school meals, and provide nutrition and agriculture education about the benefits and nutritional qualities of specialty crops to students and school personnel.

Globally Positioned Agriculture

The grant recipients are:

  • Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries - $435,904.12
  • Alaska Division of Agriculture - $197,258.55
  • Arizona Department of Agriculture - $1,175,326.21
  • Arkansas Agriculture Department - $270,934.69
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture - $17,281,158.92
  • Colorado Department of Agriculture - $773,535.26
  • Connecticut Department of Agriculture - $445,339.20
  • Delaware Department of Agriculture - $251,741.11
  • District of Columbia, Agricultural Experiment Station - $181,210.00
  • Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - $4,797,413.00
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture - $1,015,360.23
  • Guam Department of Agriculture - $183,112.95
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture - $416,808.98
  • Idaho State Department of Agriculture - $1,037,890.22
  • Illinois Department of Agriculture - $648,085.68
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture - $399,796.45
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship - $276,310.76
  • Kansas Department of Agriculture - $282,828.14
  • Kentucky Department of Agriculture - $273,262.60
  • Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry - $353,448.31
  • Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources - $420,878.14
  • Maryland Department of Agriculture - $432,766.91
  • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources - $502,944.14
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture - $1,415,489.62
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture - $802,718.56
  • Mississippi Department of Agriculture - $293,555.29
  • Missouri Department of Agriculture - $342,960.19
  • Montana Department of Agriculture - $292,954.57
  • Nebraska Department of Agriculture - $353,970.92
  • Nevada Department of Agriculture - $231,060.95
  • New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food - $260,467.66
  • New Jersey Department of Agriculture - $840,373.74
  • New Mexico Department of Agriculture - $396,160.84
  • New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets - $1,254,272.19
  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services - $1,147,731.84
  • North Dakota Department of Agriculture - $665,630.19
  • Ohio Department of Agriculture - $675,086.37
  • Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture - $369,855.41
  • Oregon Department of Agriculture - $1,764,486.13
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture - $1,069,427.21
  • Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture - $400,097.74
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Agriculture - $ 224,472.49
  • South Carolina Department of Agriculture - $524,182.84
  • South Dakota Department of Agriculture - $208,816.87
  • Tennessee Department of Agriculture - $520,784.72
  • Texas Department of Agriculture - $1,800,402.41
  • U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture - $182,405.21
  • Utah Department of Agriculture and Food - $309,814.75
  • Vermont Agency of Agriculture - $228,703.36
  • Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services - $513,226.81
  • Washington State Department of Agriculture - $3,744,666.16
  • West Virginia Department of Agriculture - $213,597.69
  • Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection - $1,056,177.63
  • Wyoming Department of Agriculture - $206,135.08

The program administered by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service is designed to increase child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; improve efficiency and reduce costs of distribution systems; assist entities in the specialty crop distribution chain in developing “Good Agricultural Practices,” “Good Handling Practices,” “Good Manufacturing Practices,” and cost-share arrangements for funding audits of such systems for small farmers, packers and processors; invest in specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes; enhance food safety; develop new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops, pest and disease control, development of organic and sustainable production practices; increase the marketability of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers; develop local and regional food systems; and improve food access in underserved communities.

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