Friday, March 21, 2014

Federal Money Available for Specialty Crops

A total of $1.1 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture is being offered to further the research, safety and promotion of speciality crops in New York state.

The Speciality Crop Block Grant program, administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, includes fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, hops and nursery crops, and works to enhance the competitiveness of New York farms by forming new partnerships to create innovations in agriculture that benefit the state's economy.

"New York's agricultural sector offers a diverse array of specialty crops as part of an already robust and thriving industry that has grown continually over the past three years," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "This $1.1 million will help local farmers across the state expand and provide valuable information to benefit our ever evolving agro-food industry, and spread the word on New York products nationwide."

Funding is being provided through the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 (amended under the federal 2014 Farm Bill), which authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide state assistance for specialty crop competitiveness programs. 

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets is soliciting proposals that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and benefit the greatest number of beneficiaries in one of three priority areas. These include research and grower education, food safety, marketing and promotion.

Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Farmers are some of the greatest innovators in the entire world, but many of these innovations cannot be brought to light without strong research behind them. As a farmer of specialty crops, I know firsthand how invaluable the Specialty Crop Block Grant program is in helping farmers enhance their operations.”

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