WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014 – USDA today announced the availability of approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand and more.
USDA says the funding, provided by the 2014 Farm Bill, will strengthen rural American communities by supporting local and regional markets and improving access to fresh, healthy and nutritious high quality products for millions of Americans.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
"Specialty crop block grants help sustain the livelihoods of American farmers while strengthening the rural economy" said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These grants contribute to food safety improvements, increased access to healthy food, and new research to help growers increase profitability and sustainability."
As directed by the Farm Bill, the block grants are now allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and production value. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds.
For more information and a state-by-state breakdown of funding, click here.
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