Investments In Specialty Crops
To help strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities the USDA has awarded $101 million in grants to help support specialty crops producers, who provide such foods as fruits, vegetables, and nuts - $55 million of which will be invested in 56 specialty crop block grants to states that fund 748 initiatives across the country. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has been awarded over $3 million for twenty-six partnering projects here in the state. Ag Secretary Vilsack explains the basis for these initiatives.
VILSACK: Encouraging better and more sustainable agriculture practices, support for beginning farmers, marketing assistance, and also helping to finance processing facilities as well as storage and distribution facilities.
In addition, Vilsack’s announcement highlighted grants awarded through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative.
VILSACK: There are fourteen grants all totaled - roughly $46 million in new or continuing grants for research projects involving specialty crops. This is part of an overall investment of $157 million since 2009. We are very proud of what agriculture has been able to do for this country generally - providing food security in this country, and providing affordable food and a great diversity of food. We’re going to continue to do everything we can to support all aspects of agriculture, including specialty crops.
Unfortunately, both the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative are part of the programs that will not be able to continue if Congress does not pass the Food, Farm, and Jobs Bill.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.