USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has announced an investment of $72.9 million through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The effort, USDA said in a release, “provides funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and support specialty crop growers through marketing, education, and research.”

The latest award announcement “marks over $1 billion invested in nearly 12,000 projects that support the U.S. specialty crop industry” over the life of the program, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

USDA notes that in fiscal year 2023, SCBGP funding is being awarded to all 50 state departments of agriculture, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. This funding is authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

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“States are encouraged to sub-award funding from the program to projects that address the needs of U.S. producers of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops,” USDA said.

“Funded projects include investing in food safety, specialty crop research, including research to focus on conservation and environmental outcomes, developing new and improved seed varieties and specialty crops, and pest and disease control,” the department said. “Additional projects focus on increasing child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops; and improving efficiency and reducing costs of distribution systems.”

More information on the specific projects is included in press statements made by each state’s department.

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